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When a series of brutal killings of young male hustlers awakens the police to the threat of a serial killer, rookie detective Raymond Fates (Noel Palomaria) and his seasoned partner detective Tom Ellis (Charles Lanyer) battle an intolerant police department that is indifferent to these "misdemeanor killings. Written by
Admirable and unique no-budget serial killer thriller
A gay serial killer preys on young men that are in rough situations. A closeted cop gets promoted to detective and takes on this case. Unfortunately, after a night out at the bar, he ends up going home with the killer! You have to give it to this one for its original premise. It sounds a tad like "Cruising," but it is not as offensive as that film. Considering "Hard" had no budget (apparently, it was financed on a few credit cards and everyone involved worked for free), the average acting is (sometimes) forgivable and it is a well-made film. The violence is mostly implied and you see the nasty resulting images, which are certainly creepy enough. I saw the R-rated version (damn it!) and was annoyed that the screen faded to black during most of the sex scenes (except the one heterosexual one, of course).
"Hard" makes several attempts at social commentary, some of which are muddled and not entirely successful. The serial killer's motive is severe internalized homophobia. On the outside, he doesn't seem to have a problem with being gay, but he can't stand that American society treats Queer youth as disposable. So instead of doing something to change this, he disposes of the kids himself to save them from the abuse they'll face throughout their lives. Yeah, it is pretty ridiculous, especially considering he tortures his victims, many of which aren't even Queer youth. Related to this, but explored much more satisfactorily, the film portrays how difficult it is to be a gay cop, and the extreme homophobia that goes on in police departments. Much of the tension and suspense in this film, interestingly enough, comes from whether or not the lead character is going to out himself or be outed. Once he finally is, he is subjected to hatred and violence from his coworkers. I've read several accounts of things like this happening, but have never actually seen a film portray it, so "Hard" gets kudos for that. While it isn't always effective or successful as either a serial killer thriller or a social commentary, Hard does have its moments and is an admirable no-budge film.
My Rating: 6/10
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