August 30, 2015 | Rome, Italy | Clear 32°C
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Black Sea

Jude Law plays a submarine captain and mercenary in a move that drowns.


Big Eyes

Tim Burton fails to animate a story about an American painter whose art is "stolen" by her husband.

American Sniper

American sniper Chris Kyle is portrayed as a simple and direct man, to Clint Eastwood's credit.

Comedy-Romantic Comedy

While We're Young

Noah Baumbach hits some true notes in a New York comedy about generational confusion..


Red Army

This remarkable look at the Soviet hockey dynasty of the 1970s and 80s is also a passion play.



A story about what might have happened to the original Superman is stylish but shallow.


Andrey Zvyagintsev's deeply moving account of a Russian life in tatters is high on fatalism.


Love Eternal

A horror thriller about bereavement, estrangement and necrophilia is odd but incomplete.


Slow West

New Zealander John MacLean constructs a brooding Western from a host of quirky parts.


Time Lapse

Bradley King's supernatural thriller has a good idea but its characters soon find themselves boxed in.

Date: 2015
Directed by: Derreck Borte
Starring: Eliza Bennett, Israel Broussard, Abigail Spencer, Jeremy Sisto, Malcolm Mays, Cary Elwes


Director and co-writer Derreck Borte's clever if patchy little thriller owes a debt to the mood and pace of criminal masterpiece "The Usual Suspects," though its ambitions are more modest and its success more contained.

H8RZ — "haters" in text-speak — opens with an explosion in a local high school in which one boy, class president Jack (Israel Broussard), is burned beyond recognition, and a second, Alex (Eliza Bennett), a foster child, is left to narrate what led up the event. And that he does in the presence of an unscrupulous lawyer (Abigail Spencer), determined to clear the school from damage suits. It seems the two were part of a five-student cabal that cheated on a test, were caught, but hatched a plan to hack into the school system to change the results — a clever enough scheme if only devilish chemistry teacher Mr. Faustin (Jeremy Sisto) hadn't caught them.

Borte's story as told through innocent-looking Alex grows edgier when Faustin begins using the identity of a student who committed suicide as tool for blackmail. Manipulated into hacking, they seem little more than scared cheats following orders from a criminal "mastermind." But that's not the whole story, which Borte reserves for his surprisingly bright kicker.

The intervening stretch — scared kids, corrupt teachers, conniving lawyer — plays to that kicker by thickening the plot. Only that kids are kids and high school is high school, leaving the run-up to the reckoning a little lean on anything but sighs, gasps and teen anxiety. Thankfully, much of the camera focus is on Alex, whose laconic storytelling and androgynous looks help give substance to a revenge story that for most of its run-time doesn't play like one.

Reviewed by: Marcia Yarrow
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