Hurt (2009)

Genre(s): Thriller
Other || R - 97 minutes - $26.95 || November 10, 2009
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-01-17

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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.

.:: A U D I O ::.

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Director: Barbara Stepansky
Writer(s): James Martin & Eduardo Levy (story), Barbara Stepansky and Alison Lea Bingeman (screenplay)
Cast: Melora Walters, William Mapother, Johanna Braddy, Jackson Rathbone, Ava Gaudet, Sofia Vassilieva

Supplemental Material:
  • Cast Interviews
  • Crew Interviews

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English

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.::THE FILM::.

There are terrible things happening in the desert. Unexplainable, frightening things. Tragic and inexplicable... ever since she arrived.

The Coltrane family’s life has been devastated by an untimely death. Widowed Helen Coltrane (MELORA WALTERS), along with her teenage son (JACKSON RATHBONE) and daughter (JOHANNA BRADDY), are given shelter by her reclusive and quirky gun-loving brother-in-law (WILLIAM MAPOTHER). As they grapple with the reality of their shattered, altered life and twist of fate, coincidence steps in with a seemingly lovely foster child (SOFIA VASSILIEVA) who appears touting a story that Helen’s husband had pledged to take her in. And as they do, a macabre story of deception and evil unfolds. – Taken from the DVD back cover.

Co-written and directed by Barbara Stepansky – in her first feature film –, Hurt is a slowly paced but well done psychological thriller. I know there’s much criticism for how slow it begins as it indeed takes a good 45-50 minutes for the story to really ratchet up the suspense and even then, the revelation of the demon girl isn’t anything surprising especially since they spell it out in the plotline. However, I appreciated the movie for examining the hardships and internal struggles within a family still reeling from a tragedy. So even with an obvious twist and little else to surprise the viewer in regards to the central plot, the psychological nature surrounding these characters makes this a worthwhile venture.

The performances aren’t anything profound, of course, but one that did stand out only because he rarely gets the chance to take a larger role is William Mapother. Known by some only as Tom Cruise’s cousin – and thus appearing in several minor roles of other Cruise films – Mapother is actually a good actor as he was able to out on display in 2001’s In the Bedroom, one of my favorite pictures of that year. His appearance in this film is pretty obvious and only serves to be creepy than anything else, I am still glad he gets more screen time.

Melora Walters (“Big Love”), Jackson Rathbone (Twilight) and Johanna Braddy (Fame 2009) are all satisfying in their respective roles while young Sofia Vassilieva, who recently appeared in the soppy drama My Sister’s Keeper, is certainly conniving looking, but not really the psychotic menace she was supposed to be.

Aside from the non-descript performances, Hurt makes its hay with the screenplay by Stepansky and Alison Lea Bingeman (as well as James Martin and Eduardo Levy in a story credit). We’re not talking about top shelf writing that will be remembered yet it does takes its time in setting up the suspense for a finale that, although anyone could see coming a mile away, is still satisfying enough.

SPOILER WARNING — However, the biggest issue I did have is how the girl got into the home. When it’s revealed why she’s there and why she’s tormenting this family, it doesn’t make much sense why a social worker would place her there. The girl obviously has psychological issues and with a recent tragedy on her end, placing her in a home doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Of course, one can point to a broken system, so maybe I’m off base... — END SPOILERS

Overall, I give Hurt a modest recommendation but don’t go in expecting some classic horror or thriller. Many might find it tough to get through as the suspense does take time to properly develop.


Cast Interviews (11:41) and Crew Interviews (5:54) – Various members of the cast and crew chat it up on their characters (or positions) on the project, shooting on location and their thoughts on the story. The sound bites are set against some behind-the-scenes footage.


Probably due to the film’s independent sized budget and the style choice of the director, the picture doesn’t look particularly great. It’s fairly washed out throughout the duration with very little bright colors. The video itself seems standard for a DVD release with some pixilation here and there and some regular grain.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 track isn’t too bad though don’t expect to be wowed. Dana Niu’s score (produced by David Julyan, btw) comes across nicely enough and dialogue is clear enough as well. The subwoofer also clicks on a few times providing a little thunder during a couple key scenes.


Although Hurt has a few issues with the story and there isn’t much here that’s really unique borrowing from other thrillers, it still managed to entertain me throughout and the performances are good enough to sustain any slow moments.