The Hater - Netflix film review

Updated: Sep 17

★★★

Directed by #JanKomasa

Written by #MateuszPacewicz

Starring #MaciejMusialowski, #VanessaAleksander, #DanutaStenka

Film Review by Amber Jackson

Written by Mateusz Pacewicz, The Hater is a thriller film that exposes toxicity, manipulation and threat within the Polish political world. Based on the film Suicide Room (also directed by Jan Komasa), The Hater has a dark emphasis on the suction power of the virtual world and its consequences. This story concerns Tomasz Giemza, an ambitious man in Warsaw who starts working in the dark world of social media smear tactics after being expelled from law school. He is clever and cunning and uses his skills to outwit everyone around him and it is this psychology that takes its toll.

The film itself is lengthy and arguably could have been shorter, as the storyline is hard to follow in parts. However, as the film progresses and the audience learns what is happening, it becomes much more engaging. A real versus fake theme is consistently extended throughout the film to keep the audience unsettled. For instance, there is effective awkwardness between characters through stiff body language and pregnant pauses in dialogue contributing to an atmosphere of uncertainty. This, combined with contrasting sharp jump cuts and lingering shots with no sound lays emphasis on Tomasz’s psyche as a character and how it is deteriorating as he falls further under the influence of social media.

It becomes more confusing as to what Tomasz believes in towards the end of the film. He behaves like the ‘Cambridge Analytica’ psychology in trying to gain trust from characters who exist on both sides of the story (riot versus protest) and win their favour. This is a fascinating psychology and is very effectively explored in this film. As the film progresses, his face becomes paler and his clothes become darker and with higher necks on his shirts. This points clearly to the fact that he has always been void of personality and an outcast. It feels as though the film ends and the audience doesn’t actually know anything about him. The last scene is like a surveillance shot as though we the audience are responsible having seen all.

Ultimately, what is clear is how the power of hate speech is used within the context of social media. The Hater deals with this in a Polish context, providing an interesting insight into the country’s politics and current issues being faced in Europe. The Facebook events and social media graphics within the film are simplified in parts, but this does not take away from the aggression of their impact. The Hater uses the rhetoric of hate riot versus protest not just in the real world, but also a false one. Tomasz uses the online and gaming world to simulate a war that needs to be won and does not quite realise the consequences of his actions until later. This is a great commentary on how opinion can become extremism, which can certainly be mirrored in reality across the world today.

This was a fast, darkly complex and bold film. Despite being enigmatic at times, it is well-worth a watch.

#AmberJackson