HazMat Movie Review
Written and directed by Lou Simon
2013, 80 minutes, Not Rated
Norbert Velez as Jacob / Hazmat
Todd Bruno as David
Aniela McGuinness as Brenda
Gema Calero as Melanie
Reggie Peters as Adam
Daniela Larez as Carla
Jacob has the shittiest friends ever. And yeah, I’m spelling that out fully, that’s how shitty they are. He’s a lonely guy who suffers from depression after his father was killed in a chemical fire thirteen years ago; it’s hard to make friends when you’re obsessed with a deceased loved one. Somehow he gets together three terrible people who will hang out with him: fame-hungry Carla, uncaring Adam, and opposed-yet-refuses-to-be-left-out Melanie. They tell Jacob they’ll get him into the factory so he can check it out. What Jacob doesn’t know is that they’ve set him up to be the butt of the joke on Scare Tactics, a reality show where mean friends scare each other.
Shockingly, this doesn’t go well for emotionally disturbed Jacob. When attacked by a man dressed in a Hazmat suit, he surprisingly attacks back! Gasp! When he realizes he’s committed murder while being filmed for a television show, he decides to take his revenge and axe the lot of them.
I rooted for him.
The plot and backstory of HazMat are formulaic and paper thin. The TV show is doomed, so the host doesn’t pull permits or tell the network they’re going, so they’re all alone. Sure. Okay. He won’t give his makeup artist a promotion because he’s in love with her. All right. And why would a promotion not make them both happy? They can be together outside of work, soooooo...what’s the problem? The host asks Carla and Melanie if they know that Jacob is disturbed, why scare him? No good answer is given. Did anyone give this script a once over to ask that question too?
There seems to be an aversion in female writers today to write strong female characters. Maybe it’s the fear of appearing vain, or maybe it's a reverse-psychology rejection of the popular female archetypes that we see today in Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, Farrah Abraham, and others that display ignorance as the bastion of happiness. Whatever the reason, it’s still disappointing to see vain, vapid characters like those even as they are murdered by an axe wielding killer in HazMat. Is it really too financially risky to write a three-dimensional woman? It’s disheartening when a female is given the opportunity to both write and direct, and writes the exact same tired and insulting tropes presented by the legions of men before her.
Yes, HazMat does make a good point. Reality television brings out the worst in people. They say horrible things and demean themselves for a shot at fame that quickly fades. But with a flimsy construct and clunky acting, HazMat does little to separate itself from other bad productions. Instead, it falls right in line.