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Haze (I) (2008)

7.5
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A documentary on hazing and alcohol abuse on college campuses.

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A documentary on hazing and alcohol abuse on college campuses.

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16 October 2008 (USA)  »

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An informative documentary with an important message
16 April 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Haze is a documentary centered around the theme of alcohol abuse on college campuses; specifically but not limited to fraternities. Along with learning many other statistics and horror stories of college drinking scenarios, we are told the story of a young man named Gordie Bailey who died from alcohol poisoning at his initiation into the Chi Psi fraternity. The story is a powerful one that hits home for many viewers, and uses emotion to appeal to students to be more careful when they drink.

To support their argument, filmmaker used many graphic images of alcohol abuse on college campuses. Images included students who had hurt themselves or others because they were intoxicated, and images of dangerous drinking games taking place at parties. There were videos from websites such as Collegehumor.com and Youtube.com that not only condone binge drinking but also encourage it. They also included clips from the movie Animal House, one thought harmless but in certain light could be seen as detrimental. The images they showed are ones that are probably familiar to many viewers such as myself, I know I had seen some of them before and laughed it off just as anyone else. But when you hear experts discussing the dangers of this behavior as you watch the footage, you see it in a whole new light.

The interviews consisted of experts and also friends and family of Gordie Bailey. The expert interviews that were conducted included doctors, scientists, psychiatrists, police officers, and others. They presented statistics and facts concerning binge drinking among young adults. These interviews were shot at a wider angle (Torso-up) than some of the interviews of friends and parents of Gordie Bailey, which were shot much more tightly and zoomed in to the interviewee's face. Interviews were a very big part of this documentary, they took up the majority of the footage, and although there were some cutaways and images being shown while people talked, there were many lengthy interview scenes in which we only watched the person talking. This was ineffective at times, such as when the experts were talking about statistics and facts, but when the family members spoke of Gordie's death, I think seeing the emotion in their faces was a big part of the intent of the filmmaker to evoke emotion.

There was little to no music being played through much of the film, I'm not sure why the filmmaker chose to do this, but I think there were some parts where it would have been effective. I think the main reason they used little music was because this documentary was intended to be very serious, dealing with something like death they may have thought that music may distract or take away from the true seriousness of the issue.

The structure of the film was interesting, it not only told the story of Gordie Bailey, but also talked about many other different aspects of college drinking and other issues surrounding it, such as the drinking age. The story of Gordie was eventually told in chronological order, but it was very broken up by discussions of other issues in between. The footage kept going back and forth between interviews with people telling Gordie's story and experts talking about other issues concerning the same themes.

The director, Pete Schuermann, has worked on other films, including a documentary entitled, "Tell Me Something I Don't Know," which chronicles the story of Scott Krueger, another student who died because of fraternity hazing. Most of his other work includes independent films ranging from horror to action to comedy. But it was his work on "Tell Me Something I Don't Know" that caught the eye of the Bailey family as they looked for someone to direct a film dedicated to their son's legacy.


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