Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Hamiltons (2006)

The Hamiltons is a dark tale about family ties and growing up…sound a little too movie-of-the-week for you? Well, don’t forget this is a horror movie and the Hamiltons aren’t your typical all-American family.

This family consists of older brother David, twins Darlene and Wendell and youngest brother Francis. Their parents died a few years ago and after losing the farm they were raised on the siblings are forced to move town to town while they try to find their place in the world. David is now the “man of the house” and must provide for the family. Wendell has just gotten out of jail for losing his temper in a fight and is the cause for most of the family’s frequent moves. Darlene delights in playing games with people and her and her twin Wendell have a very…ahem…“close” relationship. The family’s story is told through Francis’ eyes, though, as he tries to make sense of his place in the world as he grows up.

The usual family drama occurs, but things really take an interesting turn when Wendell kidnaps two young women and the family keeps them chained up in the basement. There is also something or someone else in the basement named Lenny that remains padlocked behind a massive, boarded up door. Francis is torn between protecting his family, the only kind of happiness he has ever known, and helping the girls in the basement.

The Hamiltons is a very well-done, slower-paced horror film. It will not appeal to gorehounds or those looking for slasherific satisfaction, as it is more of an intelligent and subtle horror film. I enjoyed it very much, especially the revelations at the end.

The strength of the film is how almost anyone can relate to the interactions between family members. The different relationships between the family members and the pain, difficulties and happiness they all experience as a result of their interactions will all remind viewers of their own experiences with their family (minus the whole creepy twist and incestuous relationship of the twins – let’s hope anyway!). The dialogue is all believable and each of the actors portrays the roles within a family that is barely holding it together with ease.
The cast is solid and each of the actors playing the siblings gives a great performance! Cory Knauf as Francis puts on one of the best performances. He really made me remember what it was like to be a teenager growing up and trying to fit in. Joseph McKelheer as Wendell and Samual Child as David do a stellar job in their roles as well, and Mackenzie Firgens shines as the sadistic Darlene. I loved her character and every second she was on screen. It’s amazing what a great job these four actors did in really making you believe they were a family!

This is a slow-moving film, with its focus squarely on the family drama occurring and the secret of the family, so don’t expect the screen to sing with blood. Despite what the DVD cover art looks like, this is not a gore-filled film. I was perfectly okay with this because the film definitely delivers on a more subtle and creepy level. I loved the ending and the different revelations that were shown regarding Lenny and Francis. I was a bit disappointed at the beginning, which shows Brittany Daniel trapped in the basement and something going after her. We never get to see what happens and her character is never brought up again…a very throw-away beginning, if you ask me. That was my only complaint of the film, though.

The Hamiltons is one of my favorite entries of the After Dark Horrorfest and if you are looking something with a highly original story, great performances, a well-written script and a bang-up ending, look no further than this film. It’s an intelligent and subtly creepy look at a family that you would not want to be neighbors with!

Available on Amazon!

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