Reviewbr> “Yes, David has had a real knack for gutting the life out of things.” – Darlene
The four Hamilton siblings have recently lost their parents and we are informed have moved from town to town a number of times over the last couple of years. David, the oldest Hamilton, is trying to keep the family together and acting like any other normal family. He seems to be the sole bread winner via his job in a local slaughter house. Wonder if he has a cup of coffee with Leatherface at lunch? Francis, the youngest of the clan, is trying to define his role in the world and is all emo, like angst filled teenagers are prone to be. Fitting somewhere in between are the twins Wendell and Darlene who are well into torturing people, including Francis, and who are “closer” than your normal twins. Wonder if they have ever been to Tasmania?
Just when you think you have stumbled onto a drama about family dynamics Wendell kidnaps a couple of chick hitchhikers and hangs them up in the basement. The blonde hitchhiker is soon dispatched and the movie focus on whether or not Francis will betray his family and save the remaining hitchhiker, or if he as demented as the rest of the clan. Did I mention the thing in the basement we don’t get to see till the end of the movie?
Every now and again you get a treat in the reviewing game. After a whole bunch of iffy flicks I finally found one in my queue that rocked the house down. The Hamiltons is an independent movie that arrived via the “After Dark HorrorFest” in the States and which has not surprisingly been winning awards at various film festivals. I had heard the movie was pretty good via various horror communities, so was absolutely delighted to receive a copy to review.
Please note this review is going to be pretty perfunctionary due to the fact that there are a couple of twists coming at you, and to give those away would be to ruin your enjoyment of an outstanding horror movie. It also means I can cut the length of this review down to bite sized chunks.
I would admit that The Hamiltons isn’t going to be liked by every horror fan on the planet. In fact I would go so far as to say the movie is probably only going to be appreciated by the small minority who rock out to adult orientated psychological horror fare rather than gore or shock tactics. So if you like movies by Directors such as Brad Anderson then dig on in you are in for a treat. The other off putting factor for some potential viewers would be the use of a hand held camera for some scenes to give us the view from main character Francis’ angle. But don’t worry , as opposed to the three “film students” in The Blair Witch Project or the stoner Hud in Cloverfield, Francis actually has pretty good hand-eye coordination and doesn’t shoot like he has an advanced case of palsy.
Actually teens may want to give The Hamiltons a miss as well, there are no T.V stars present and the Directors have shyed away from presenting anything Hollywood looking. The movie was shot on the cheap and looks it.
If you are still with me here lets get down to the good work on display in The Hamiltons. I wasn’t sure what sort of movie I was getting into to be honest as details on the flick were pretty scarce at the sites I normal check. For quite some time I thought I had dialled into yet another The Texas Chainsaw Massacre clone, The Hamiltons has the same sort of wash out look Hooper brought to his classic via use of grainy film stock and this was painted red by the demise of the first victim in the basement, just like Hooper Directors Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores managed to make me think I was seeing one thing while with a slight of hand camouflaging what I was really seeing. Superb stuff, wonder how many Hitchcock movies the Directors have checked out of their local Blockbusters? The Hamiltons doesn’t descend into the expected gore stock of trade that we expect but focuses on mental cruelty and an increasing exposure of the audience to the depravities of the Hamilton family members. Just when we think Wendell and Darlene are the only ones with a few Roos loose in the top paddock, that Kitty demise was pretty intense considering it’s sans gore, we learn David is happily picking up gay males and disposing of their bodies in shallow graves out back of the house. And to think we still have the exposure of the thing in the basement to come!
Finally a return to excellence by the U.S horror film industry, though notably it was via the Indies and not Boredwood
The Directors go for a heavy realistic look to their movie. While The Hamiltons remains staunchly in the horror genre it also takes a look at family interactions and the attempt by David to save what he believes in. I was actually quite impressed with the family dynamic, taking into account we are talking a bunch of sociopaths here. Everything has that ring of truth to it right down to realistic dialogue and the normal assortment of problems families deal with on a day to day basis. Francis has an altercation with Wendell and takes his problem with his brother to David, the surrogate father figure. For his part David is too busy bringing home the bacon to deal with Francis so basically tells the kid to sort out his own problems. A quick kick to the arse was warranted there as well if you ask me.
The movie completes with a twist that I didn’t see coming, or I should say a couple of twists that knocked my socks off, that remain logical to the context of the movie. Nothing is left hanging in the wind and the Directors cover their bases in terms of there being no obvious plot holes.
There’s some pretty good acting in The Hamiltons from pretty much an unknown cast of amateurs and wannabees. Cory Knauf (Francis) provides a firm foundation as the introspective and emotional teenager trying to find his place within his abnormal family and also in terms of facing issues relating to growing up. Knauf is believable and in need of a hair cut. Samuel Child (David) gives a subtle performance as the one family member trying to provide a veneer of normality. In the face of the twins ridicule Child nails it as the adult unable to quickly think of an answer to an impossible situation. Great timing and an ear for making lines work as they should in a very naturalistic style of acting. Once again a believable performance that helps nail The Hamiltons into a realistic frame work. Joseph McKelheer (Wendell) and Mackenzie Firgens (Darlene) however steal the show with some pretty tense and demented ice cold goodness that hit the sweet spot for mine.
Nathan Montiel and Joshua Myers added the score but to be honest I was too absorbed by the movie to take any notice.
An outstandingly good movie, The Hamiltons once again proves that the true strength of the horror genre rests with the Independent production outfits. I was captivity from the opening frame to the voice over by Francis at the end of the movie. The Hamiltons got me with a couple of plot twists I didn’t see coming, did I mention Lenny? – and finally showed that a hand held camera can work in the hands of someone able to not display all the finesse of an alcoholic at opening time. Wish they would make more movies like this well thought out, adult orientated, thinking person’s horror flick.
I would urge anyone reading to rush out today and secure a copy of The Hamiltons. If you like horror flicks that do more than simply go boo or throw blood bags at the screen then you are in for a treat. Take some time out of your day to meet the Hamiltons, or whatever name they are currently going by.
[Editor's Note: At time of writing there was talk of a sequel that doesn't appear to have ever been made. If memory serves, was going to be set in England]