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STUDIO: Lions Gate Entertainment
RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes
• Deleted scenes
• Feature length commentary with the directors and Cory Knauf
It’s Party of Five but with plenty of death to go along with the brooding.
Cory Knauf, Samuel Child, Mackenzie Firgens and Brittany Daniel.
The Hamiltons used to be an ideal family. Mom and dad ran a great little farm and all the kids helped out on it. Then the parents bit the dust and things went south fast. The elder brother in the family is forced to sell the farm and try to provide for his younger siblings who give him nothing but grief in return. This fractured family scenario would be difficult enough if the Hamiltons were a normal bunch of folks, but that’s not the case.
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Corpses tend to pile up with this not-so Brady Bunch, so the family moves from house to house quite often. That wreaks havoc on the social life of Francis, the moody adolescent in the family who can’t fit in at school. The already tenuous family unit is threatened when Francis has second thoughts about his family and wrestles with the decision of whether or not to turn them in.
This dysfunctional family circus is a novel little film that remains entertaining thanks to its deviation from the typical horror trappings. This family unit isn’t comprised of radioactive mutants who rape and devour their victims, nor do they keep freaks under the stairs and dress up in leather bondage outfits. They put up a relatively normal appearance, struggle with making ends meet and do the best they can to stick together after the traumatic loss of their parents. People also tend to tie when they run into them, but what family doesn’t have some skeletons in the closet?
The big reveal of The Hamiltons isn’t much of a shocker and is more or less blatantly hinted at throughout the movie. In fact, just mentioning the premise of “a family with a dark secret” can lead many horror fans to guess the true nature of the Hamiltons without ever seeing the movie. It’s fortunate that the filmmakers realize that the secret of the Hamiltons is quite obvious and don’t make it the focus of the feature. The family’s dark secret isn’t that big a deal in the story. The focus is on Francis’ conflict with the family and his refusal to accept what he is.
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Being a horror movie, The Hamiltons does have a bit of an obligation to deliver some gore and some cheesecake, which is where the rest of the family members fit in. When it’s time to see some throats ripped out or some incestuous French kissing, the brother and sister pair take center stage. These gratuitous scenes work well in establishing the odd nature of the family and giving the audience a break from Francis’ angst-ridden moping.
The gore itself isn’t much to speak of either. If the MPAA had any real legitimacy when it came to rating films, it would be shocking that this one was stuck with an R. Was the graphic footage of someone giving blood too horrifying for younger viewers? It must have been the part where a girl cuts her finger picking up some glass. The Hamiltons could be stuck on any network television station and run in the daytime without any edits, so if you’re looking for gore you’re watching the wrong film.
The story is a typical tale of teenage alienation just made more literal with the introduction of monstrous elements, not too far removed from Near Dark. If you always felt Full House would have been that much better if only Uncle Joey cut the necks out of strippers and drank their blood, The Hamiltons can be your T.G.I.F. substitute.
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The disc contains a feature length commentary with directors Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores, also known as the Butcher Brothers. They’re joined by lead actor Cory Knauf. The Hamiltons isn’t an action packed film by any means and there’s plenty of downtime, so the directors can’t just sit back and comment on what’s unfolding on the screen.
They have plenty of stories about the movie’s inception and how they went about trying to delay the big reveal for as long as possible, although they acknowledge the clues planted throughout the movie make it fairly obvious. Knauf chimes in occasionally with stories about the movie’s reception at the After Dark Horrorfests and the way in which the actors shaped the story, including their slight reworking of the ending.
Being a murderous hellbeast is no excuse for not eating like a pig. Looks like somebody’s a ziggy piggy.
The deleted scenes and bloopers don’t offer much worth viewing. The excised scenes were snipped for a reason, mostly because they just offer further exposition and set-up for events that really don’t require any. A few of the scenes focus on victim characters who really don’t need any background. Any scenes that take the focus away from the family unit tend to drag the film down, so it’s for the best that these scenes didn’t find their way into The Hamiltons.
The blooper reel is your standard set of gags as the actors mug for the camera and flub their lines. Seeing an actor screw up in the middle of a serious and angry monologue isn’t very entertaining, but it’s probably something that happens often. If you need documented proof of this phenomenon, it’s here for the taking.