Fears that we might be in ‘found footage’ territory are quickly assuaged (although the film makes use of recorded material from its show-within-a-movie concept) as we meet the slightly smug crew of cheap reality show Scary Antics which puts real people in scary situations and then frightens the living daylights out of them, Candid Camera style (ask an ancient relative). Ratings are higher but the budget’s tight and the show’s producer Dave (Todd Bruno) is keen to make a real splash with the show’s latest saps. A bunch of unpleasant kids lure their friend Jacob to an abandoned chemical factory where his father was killed years before – wouldn’t we all like to have such thoughtful friends? – in an attempt to shock him out of his dark mood by terrifying the bejeebus out of him on TV. Perhaps not surprisingly this doesn’t go well when Jacob finds a long-forgotten hazmat costume and an axe, mistakes the make-believe scenario for real-life and goes quietly bonkers.
Hazard – US title Hazmat - isn’t utterly terrible but it’s entirely without scares, shocks or surprises. Trapped in the makeshift Scary Antics control room in the factory, the show’s team look on in horror – but not much panic – as Jacob starts his rampage and before long they and the surviving punters whose own stupidity has gotten them into this unlikely predicament are trapped as Jacob prowls the corridors ready to cut them down. Stop yawning at the back...
In its defence, Hazard is competently put together even if the script is leaden and derivative and the acting at best variable. The problem is there’s just nothing new here, just hoary old horror clichés – madman in a mask picks off victims with an axe – executed with little panache and with no real attempt at racheting up any tension or sense of escalating menace. The kids are an irritating and one-dimensional, self-obsessed bunch and our sympathies, such as they are, lie with the Scary Antics crew who are, at least, given a little personality and motivation.
But this is forgettable, disposable stuff. We’re not exactly issuing a – er - Hazard warning but you might want to veer off in another direction and spend your time with something a bit more worthwhile unless you really don’t object to being beaten about the head by hoary old horror clichés for an hour or so.
Special Features: None
INFO: HAZARD / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: LOU SIMON / STARRING: NORBERT VELEZ, ANIELA MCGUINESS, TODD BRUNO, GEMA CALERO / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW