"One of the 8 Films to Die For" from 2006's After Dark Horrorfest, The Hamiltons is the best of the bunch, of the ones I've seen thus far. About a psychotic family who seems normal in their suburban lifestyle until you realize that all but one of them are ruthless murderers who love to drink the blood of their neighbors, The Hamiltons isn't as scary as it is messed up, disturbing and gory.
The Hamiltons stars a group of relative unknowns, all of whom play siblings who enjoy scaring, torturing and ultimately killing people. David is the nerd of the group and perhaps the smartest, but smartest in this family means he mainly preys on transients and others who rarely gets noticed. He likes to keep these people in the basement and slowly feed off of them over time. Wendell and Darlene are a little more ferocious, as they prey on anyone they dare to, including the beautiful next door neighbor. Their blood lust excites them in more ways than one, and they often resort to incest. As for Francis, he is the only one who hasn't killed, but is relatively weak-minded and scared of the consequences of turning his family over to the police. Can he save his family's latest victims, or will he become just like them?
As with all of these Horrorfest movies, The Hamiltons isn't flawless, but it is definitely the most engaging, entertaining and unique film of the bunch. While most of the movies are generic slasher flicks or ghost stories, The Hamiltons is almost a family drama... only about a family that has some unique habits. The actors are surprisingly good, for the most part, as is the script, and the combination results in a highly effective thriller. While Cory Knauf, who plays Francis, is the weakest of the bunch, the others get fully into their characters, and Joseph McKelheer and Mackenzie Firgens, who play Wendell and Darlene respectively, are highlights. Their few scenes with innocent Jena Hunt are the most impressive.
The Hamiltons all leads up to a twist ending (or maybe I just wasn't paying attention earlier on), which is okay but not terrific. From a writing standpoint, the ending works quite well, as it is certainly a change of pace from the rest of the film, but from a theatrical point-of-view, I thought it was a bit of a cop out. SPOILER: I'm not a big fan of movies where something potentially realistic is explained with a supernatural element, and The Hamiltons takes things the route I didn't want it to go. At the same time, I certainly didn't see it coming, and in hindsight several parts of the movie are tied together quite well with the twist.
I can't say I was crazy about the ending, but if I was to recommend any of the 2006 Horrorfest films, The Hamiltons would probably be at the top of the list.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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