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After Dark Horrorfest: The Hamiltons

Directed by The Butcher Brothers

Written by The Butcher Brothers, Adam Weis

Starring Cory Knauf, Samuel Child, Joseph McKelheer, Mackenzie Firgens

Produced by Mitchell Altieri, Phil Flores

Rated R

86 minutes

**

I openly confess that, when I started “The Hamiltons,” I had the lowest hopes for it out of the entire After Dark Horrorfest lineup.

It looked like your average angsty serial killer pseudo-epic. No ghosts, no monsters, no stalking or fights for survival but rather some kind of “Party of Five” episode gone horribly wrong.

The plot certainly supported my admittedly preconceived notions—a family of hardworking pillars of the community, headed by the eldest brother following the deaths of the parents—Jennifer Love Hewitt, where are you?—who always seems to be a couple doors down from whereever the recent murders are going on.

The DVD menu, while superior to “Unrest” and inferior to “Gravedancers,” has a monologue running in the background. This is, of course, pretentious as all hell. It still beats “Unrest”s total lack of any kind of DVD animatics, though.

And I have to admit that there’s a little more going on than meets the eye here—part of what true horror is, I suppose—though for all the horrific twists you can still comfortably say it’s just a “Party of Five” two-hour special gone horribly, horribly wrong.

But in all honesty, this doesn’t even vaguely qualify under the After Dark Horrorfest’s stated standards of too shocking, graphic or disturbing for general audiences. I’ve seen wildly worse than “The Hamiltons” on the direct to video circuit, let along theatres. Frankly, the movie they watch at about the half-hour mark looks like it’d be scarier than “The Hamiltons” is at its worst.

Perhaps saddest of all is when “The Hamiltons” goes for reaction by featuring a brother and sister makeout session. Oh, and the all-too-clear sounds of a two-guy lovefest going on in the next room. That wasn’t pleasant either.

Give credit where credit is due—even as “The Hamiltons” grinds onward to what will hopefully be an interesting conclusion to make up for the boredome alternating with pointless brutality, they do manage to let slip just enough interesting plot points to at least begrudgingly make you continue.

The ending fills in the blanks pretty proficiently, and though there are no real clever twists or anything, it’s a fair enough ending.

The special features include commentary tracks, deleted scenes, a blooper reel, and trailers for the After Dark Horrorfest, “Reincarnation,” “The Hamiltons,” “Gravedancers,” “Unrest,” “Penny Dreadful,” and “Wicked Little Things.”

All in all, fair is a good descriptor for “The Hamiltons.” It will prove to be odd and even a bit unique in its way, but it doesn’t pack any scares in it. Not even the thought of a family like the Hamiltons in your neighborhood is all that frightening—you’ve already seen dozens of times worse.

Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.


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