R | 1h 42min | Crime, Drama, Thriller | 11 August 2000 (Spain)
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.
Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)
Rated R for violence and grisly afterviews, strong sexual content, language and some drug content
A serial killer terrorizes and kills young gay men, urban drifters whom society couldn’t care less about. And therein lies a clue to the killer’s motivation, at least in part. “Hard” is not a whodunit, although, as a result of the film’s editing, the identity of the killer is not revealed officially until almost halfway into the film. Up to that point, the killer, at least in theory, could be any of several people. There’s also some intentional plot misdirection with regard to another character. Indeed, I think the film would have been stronger as a full-fledged whodunit, with all kinds of plot twists and turns. As is, the film reveals too much, too soon and, as a result, forgoes a sense of mystery and some suspense.
Even with a less than ideal plot, the film does a great job of conveying a sense of danger, especially toward the end. The visuals are dark, and when combined with sinister background music, create a tone that is menacing and foreboding. The finale takes place in an old, unused theater, and its creepy basement with wet floors, a holding place for previous victims. Here, at night, the cops close in. A beam of flashlight, a dilapidated stage, some rickety scaffolding, all that inky darkness, the perfect lair for a psychopath.
The film has suffered some bad press because the subject matter is not politically correct. There are lots of violent images, though very little in the way of violent action. The film also has a lot to say about police attitudes toward gays.
Edgy and cinematically risky, “Hard” grapples with difficult images and ideas. It isn’t for everyone, in the same sense that the 1980 film “Cruising” was not for everyone. But even on a shoestring budget, “Hard” is a well-made film. It’s an intriguing film, one that’s best seen late at night, when all the lights are out.
Director: John Huckert
Writers: John Huckert (screenplay), John Matkowsky (screenplay)
Stars: Noel Palomaria, Malcolm Moorman, Charles Lanyer
Release Date: 11 August 2000 (Spain)
Filming Locations: Los Angeles, California, USA