“THE HIVE” (Film Review)Movies/TV,News,Reviews Ken W. Hanley
THE HIVE is a bit of a difficult film to review, at least for this writer. Not because it’s a difficult movie to understand- which it’s not- nor is it because it’s bad- which it’s definitely not. In fact, THE HIVE is, for the most part, an excellent film, and the kind horror audiences should be embracing considering that it’s an original, R-rated contagion movie that has some genuinely interesting and scary concepts at play. But the reason THE HIVE is difficult to review is because the film treads very lightly with its originality, as the film gets concerningly close to many of its very apparent influences.
While there is some familiarity at play that is likely just the product of coincidence, as this writer doubts director Dave Yarovesky studied the subtleties and plot dynamics of 2007’s THE SIGNAL, there is almost no denying that THE HIVE owes very much to THE EVIL DEAD, especially the 2013 reboot from Fede Alvarez. While THE HIVE is surprisingly light on gore with the exception of a few brief sequences, THE HIVE stylistically mirrors THE EVIL DEAD franchise, whether it’s the log cabin location (here justified rather cleverly with a summer camp), the voice of the possessed, the twitching body movements, the blackened blood, the wayward eyes and even the filter-friendly camerawork, which feels very Raimi-esque during the film’s suspenseful sequences. In fact, some of the jump scares of the film mirror THE EVIL DEAD franchise throughout, including some of the more instantaneous possessions at hand. The fact that the film borrows, consciously or otherwise, so heavily from such an unmistakable unique franchise is almost a bit uncomfortable, which is more unfortunate because the film is very well-executed and terrifically entertaining.
The film is rather brilliantly put together, following a teenager who awakens alone in a dark room with no memory of who is he or how he got there. Soon, he discovers clues that he left for himself before losing consciousness, which sparks a flicker of memory… except the memories don’t belong to him. Soon, he begins patching together who he is, what happened, and where he can find the girl he fell in love with, and uncovers the nature of a deadly virus that creates a hive mind mentality among all it infects.
As far as the film is technically concerned, THE HIVE is incredibly well put together and even more epic than one might expect, even if the film isn’t stylistically original. The production value on the film feels big, especially considering how often the film is confined to a select few locations; credit does deserve to go to Will Honley and Yarovesky’s script in that regard, making the most out of the film’s hive mind storytelling to organically heighten the scope of the film. Meanwhile, the splattery “hive blood” effects from genre gore master Gary Tunnicliffe is very effective and realistic, and the score by Anthony Willis (aided by a soundtrack featuring Steve Aoki and Jimmy Urine) is superb, making the whole film pulsate alongside the saturated cinematography of Michael Dallatore.
THE HIVE also sports some strong performances, most of which is confined to an extremely young cast. Gabriel Basso is actually surprisingly down-to-earth as our lead Adam, who jumps between his sleazy public life, his sensitive private life and his permanently fucked-up life after amnesia effortlessly; it’s the kind of lead character you don’t expect to become attached to, but are glad that you do. Meanwhile, Kathryn Prescott is great- if unfortunately underdeveloped- as Katie, the love interest of the piece with a pinch of grounded cynicism, and both Jacob Zachar and Gabrielle Walsh are shine as the non-PC comic relief Clark and his unfaithful girlfriend Jess (who gets to unleash her sinister side in the film’ second half). And the film even makes great use of the smaller roles in the film, including Sean Gun, Elya Baskin and even NERD POKER regular Steve Agee.
With strong performances, excellent craftsmanship and a genuine talent in director Dave Yarovesky, it’s a shame that the film is so distractingly liberal with its stylistic use of familiar genre material. It’s not even derivative, as derivative implies a sense of dullness and repetition while THE HIVE feels genuinely fresh and exciting. Nevertheless, this writer can’t warrant a higher recommendation for a film that would normally warrant due to the egregious similarities to the EVIL DEAD films. However, THE HIVE is frankly a fun, delightfully messy time and posits Yarovesky as a director to watch, especially if next time around he’s able to make something of which he can take 100% ownership.