HazMatTitle: HazMat (2013)
Director: Lou Simon
Runtime: 80 minutes

The indie horror scene is rather overcrowded these days, so if a movie doesn’t get a lot of mention from publications like Fangoria, or good buzz from film festivals, then you’ll probably never hear of it. HazMat is one such film. I never heard of it, but saw that Redbox had it listed as a new release, and it sounded fun.

Scary Antics is a hot TV series in its third season. They find people who want to scare their friends, just like the SyFy reality show called Scare Tactics. Some friends decide to scare their friend Jacob (Norbert Velez) by bringing him to the abandoned warehouse that his father died in. Things go wrong when Jacob snaps, and starts hunting them down and killing them, one by one, in his hazmat suit and axe.

At no point is HazMat overly original, but it runs with the hidden camera footage as the way for half of the cast to watch on in horror, as the kids die. My biggest problem is that the kids aren’t likeable at all, so I was praying for quick and violent deaths for all of them. Sadly, the one I hated the most, Melanie (played by Gema Calero) is our main heroine, and she has this god-awful Latino accent that is just grating. She’s often hard to make out, and it seems like the accent comes and goes.

Slasher films are all about the kills, and HazMat has some decent ones. The gore is also nicely done. We do get a few quick cuts, which I’m guessing have more to do with the budget than anything else. The best part is that the film offers a high level of tension, and I was really drawn in to some of the moments of the third act.

There’s a reason this film didn’t make a name for itself, and that’s because the directing is rather rough around the edges. Lou Simon not only wrote the film, but she also directed it, and while I thought it was her first film, it appears it’s not. There are moments where the characters say lines like “I’m turning off the light, and switching to night vision”, and they shut off the light. Then, for the next few scenes, they are roaming the halls with this giant beacon of light coming out of the camera. I don’t know how you edit a film and leave such obvious continuity errors. It’s not like a boom microphone accidently dropping in; this is something that shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

With that being said, HazMat is a fun little slasher film with a good body count, and decent gore. It has some flaws, but just past the midway point, the film notches up the tension, and it really works to draw the viewer in for the rest of the movie. Slasher fans should get a kick out of HazMat, just don’t hold it to big budget standards.

three_stars

Chris Ranson
Film Critic at Cinefessions

Chris was raised on horror films, which gave him a deep love for the genre, especially its most quirky and offbeat titles (like A Nightmare on Elm Street 2). This love quickly turned into an obsession for cinema in 1997, when he decided he needed to see every major theatrical release. Video games (JRPGs), reading (anything but fantasy), and reality television (Survivor) are just some of his other passions. He’s been with Cinefessions since 2013, and has been writing reviews all over the internet for the past twelve years.