Movie Review: Hazmat (2013)

Synopsis: Concerned about his mental health and hoping to scare him straight, Jacob's friends bring him to the abandoned and supposedly haunted chemical factory where his dad was killed because they have arranged for him to be the subject of a cruel prank on a nationally-televised series. However, things don't go as planned and, instead of being scared, Jacob snaps, dons a hazmat suit and starts hunting both the television crew and his friends with an ax.

Who's in it? The movie stars Norbert Velez, Aniela McGuinness, Todd Bruno, GiGi Calero and Daniela Larez.

Review: When I came across this movie on VUDU yesterday, I honestly didn't think it would be very good. But, I figured it was a simple-enough plot to be watchable and, at minimum, my wife and I might get a few laughs at the expense of the characters in the movie.

For the most part, this movie was about what I was expecting it to be. However, it did end up being a pleasant surprise as well.

I'm going to start out by saying there is a lot wrong with this movie. One of the main ones is Jacob's (Velez) victims are kind of dumb. There are multiple opportunities for at least some of them to escape throughout the film and, when they do finally try to get out of the building (which would seem like the most logical course of action), they do it in a way that basically makes it easy for them to get killed.

The main premise of the movie, quite honestly, is a bit laughable as well. The idea of a television series centered around scaring people was believable. But, Jacob's friends thinking he was a good candidate for that show and their reasons for doing it seemed pretty darn ridiculous, especially since they went on record describing him as being unstable to the point he could be a serial killer.

Heck, within the first couple minutes of actually meeting him, I could tell there was absolutely no reason to believe he would ever be scared by an actor pretending to be a ghost. His DAD DIED IN THE PLACE and he was practically giddy to break inside and hunt down spirits. That, alone, should have be a red flag.

That being said, the film did have quite a bit going for it as well. For one, based on his personality at the beginning, the idea of him snapping because he thought one of his friends was killed only to later discover it was a prank was believable.

I also liked how Jacob, who had spent a great amount of time at the plant when he was a kid, had a realistic advantage when stalking his victims as they struggled to figure out the winding corridors in the dark. It made it easy to explain how he managed to catch up to them when they had a considerable head start.

The movie also ended up being a lot less predictable than I was expecting it to be. Part of the reason for this was the fact this was taking place as the television series was also filming "behind-the-scenes" footage. It made me wonder, on more than one occasion, if the whole thing would turn out to be an elaborate prank on one of the crew members. To avoid giving a spoiler, I won't give you the answer to that.

Final Opinion: It's a low-budget slasher movie that does have some flaws. But, it was still somewhat entertaining. If you're a fan of the genre, it's worth watching on a rainy day.

My Grade: C+


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