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The Hive (Movie Review)

The Hive (Movie Review)
7 10

 

PLOT: A young man wakes up in a fortified cabin without any memory of who he is or how he got there. All he knows for sure is that  he's infected with some kind of virus, there's a dead body sitting nearby, and something lurking nearby that wants to get in.

REVIEW: The Hive is a sci-fi film so jammed with ideas and mysteries it's like an entire season of The X-Files stuffed into one 90 minute package. It doesn't want for ambition, I'll certainly give it that. In fact, it might be that rare case of a film that suffers from being too ambitious; as the puzzles pile on, it eventually becomes worrisome that director David Yarovesky has bitten off more than he can chew. Still, it's a more than noble effort, and almost certain to gain a following of dedicated defenders.

Gabriel Basso makes for a compelling lead as Adam, who as soon as we meet him has awoken in a shuttered cabin with no memory of who he is or what has happened to him. There is writing all over the walls in chalk - possibly written by him - that function as clues to help him untangle the disorienting mystery of his identity and predicament. There are troubles in addition to those major issues: He's apparently been infected with some kind of ghastly virus (his body has black, moldy wounds all over it), there's a battered corpse keeping him company nearby, and there's someone - or something -  lurking just outside the room, and it doesn't want to be friends. Slowly but surely, Adam's memories of the last few days come back to him, providing hints as to what's befallen him. What he knows for sure is, he's a counselor at a summer camp for wealthy kids, a burgeoning lothario who makes it his business to bed each and every one of the female counselors (including the girlfriend of his best pal), and he's also recently become smitten with a young girl named Katie (Kathryn Prescott), who sees through his charming schtick. It would appear he and Katie had just become close before an event changed their lives, and perhaps the whole world, forever.

 

Alarmingly, he's not only relying on his own flashbacks to fill in the gaps. Adam has visions of people and places he's never seen before: there's an unseen doctor doing research on telekinetic phenomena in a lab, but also a Russian scientist tasked with talking to what appears to be a woman infected with the same disease Adam has. How can he have memories of people and places he's never encountered before? And how does it tie into the fateful night he and his friends went searching for a crashed aircraft in the mountains near the camp?

There's little you can actually describe about THE HIVE without descending down a rabbit hole from which there is no escape. Indeed, it's not a simple story easily explained; Yarovesky and his co-writer Will Honley have crafted a script that is alternately engaging and frustrating. There's a lot of information to parse through here, and just as we think we're getting somewhere THE HIVE will toss another riddle our way. The film certainly keeps us on our toes, for better or worse, and while I can't say I found every new turn fully satisfying, I can appreciate a film that deems to challenge us as opposed to spoonfeeding us every little thing.  

 

THE HIVE isn't purely a sci-fi braintease, it has horror deeply rooted in its DNA. The film packs a few visceral punches, with effective scares and persuasive visuals complementing the perplexing goings-on. THE HIVE has definitely taken notes from films like The Evil Dead, 28 Days Later and several other gooey sci-fi/horror flicks. Gore hounds won't have to wait impatiently for black sludge to spew, heads to get caved in, or other ghoulish sights, since Yarovesky clearly enjoys the fun "gotcha!" thriller aspects of the piece just as much as he does twisting the screws of the plot. The crisp sound design gives a boost to the film's more successful jump scares.

There's a good young cast here on display. Basso (who you might recognize from Super 8 or The Kings of Summer) very capably navigates the rollercoaster of emotions Adam is forced to go through; there's even a crafty effort to make the character slightly unlikable early on, which Basso handles with ease. Prescott is the girl next door that any guy could easily fall for, but when she's in the dark situation the movie crams her in, she proves she's not just a pretty face but a solid actress. Perhaps the most entertaining performance comes from Gabrielle Walsh, who plays Jess, one of Adam's fellow camp counselors. I won't reveal what makes Walsh's performance so much fun because I don't want to spoil it, but she has some of the most difficult material to work with and she's excellent.

Overall, THE HIVE is a compelling exercise, certainly recommended to sci-fi/horror fans seeking for something new-ish that still features familiar genre tropes.

Extra Tidbit: THE HIVE is having a special one-night showing in 500 theaters tonight, September 14th, via Fathom Events. For more info, head over HERE.

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