So, let's imagine that you had seen a trailer for a film and you thought to yourself, " I don't think I ever need to see that." Mosey on down time a little bit and you have the opportunity to ask a director which film he would suggest that you start with to get a greater understanding of his work. Internally, you're thinking, 'please don't say Hate Crime, please don't say Hate Crime' and Mr.Bressack replies, "I would start with Pernicious, but since that isn't out yet, I would start with Hate Crime." Ugh.
I had negative interest in seeing Hate Crime for the very reason that it's existence is necessary; it's horrific, unflinching and it's an unfortunate reality of our society. Coming in at a lean 73 minutes, a Jewish family has moved into a new neighborhood and they are celebrating their youngest son's birthday. As dad picks up the video camera to capture what should be a joyous event, three masked men enter their home and these men are not your run of the mill home invasion psychos. They are something even more malicious; Neo-Nazis. Fueled by Crystal Meth and hatred, they have come to this home to torture people simply for the sheer joy of humiliating and degrading a race that they have deemed less than themselves.
Of all of the horrors that exist in our world, there is something about racism that breaks my heart in a very different way than some other human atrocities. Hearing racial slurs and learning of hate crimes makes my skin crawl and unnerves me on a deep, deep level and this is why I had hoped to avoid watching Hate Crime.
As someone who is often assumed to be 100% caucasian or, at times, Italian, I have not had to endure the ugliness of racism; not like my mother and my grandmother have. My grandmother came to, what was at the time, the Territory of Arizona from Mexico and if she hadn't done that, my reality would be very, very different. As a woman in a profession that involves a large dose of candid conversation, it never ceases to amaze me how often people speak of Mexicans to me as if they are something to be scraped off of their shoe and not actual people. Again, because I "pass" as white, it is assumed that I do not care for Mexicans either. I simply cannot wrap my brain around this logic. Or lack thereof.
What my family has experienced is nowhere near the awfulness that some other families have experienced and certainly nowhere near the ugliness that is Anti-Semitism. Please do not misunderstand; I find any level of any kind of racism disgusting and I abhor people who partake in it.
As Hate Crime unfolds via a handheld camera, the absolute hatred these men have towards this family is physically sickening. These three men are having the time of their lives raping, torturing, humiliating and killing this family and the very worst part of all of that is that these incidents occur in real life. They refer to themselves as "1", "2" and "3." 3 is the wild card and he yells so much that he's, mostly, unintelligible through the two masks that he's wearing. In fact, there's a lot of yelling and screaming for the entire length of the movie and it becomes taxing for multiple reasons. Truly, a lot of the dialogue was very hard to understand, but I had very mixed emotions over whether or not this was a bad thing. I don't need to hear every vile thing that comes out of their mouth, but 73 minutes of yelling and screaming is a bit much. Perhaps that's the point, though. Hate Crime is physically, mentally and emotionally draining to watch; the longer it went on, the more I began to hate it. Ready to completely write this off as another piece of unnecessary filth, my mind was completely changed when the screen went to black and then the details of what became of everyone involved appeared. It was at this very moment that the movie really kicked me in the stomach by reminding me that, for some people, this night could be a reality. As I sat on my comfy couch and started judging the filmmaker and being annoyed by the audio, someone, somewhere was being abused in the same manner that this family was. I believe this is what Oprah would call an "a-ha moment".
Clearly, not a movie that I intend to revisit, Hate Crime certainly achieves it's desired result and it's the kind of movie that affects you on a visceral level and reminds you of the world that we live in. While this isn't the type of film that I would recommend for everyone, I do believe it has a place and sometimes it's via film that people need to be reminded of reality.