FILM INFO: Robert, an ex-con is trying to get his life back on track. Rachel, a hopeless prostitute is trying to survive a life on the streets. Both will find themselves playing a part in bringing a sadistic fantasy into fruition.
Here's a thought. Round up a few ex-cons and local undesirables. Bring them to a wooded area in the middle of nowhere. Set them free and release the camera wearing zombies. Is this not an entertaining idea or what? It's like the film "Predators" without the aliens! Or alien planets. Or budget. I guess "Hongo" isn't really like "Predators" at all except the hunting of captured and unwilling prey. It's still a pretty neat idea though, brought to life by Jaron Lockridge who wrote and directed. Robert, played by Everett Anderson, is one of a bunch of people tricked, captured and forced to be a member of an experiment devised by Jim Gallargo, played by Michael LaCour. Mr. Gallargo is a candidate for mayor, so without much work from Jaron Lockridge and his directing touches, we assume he probably has some political weight behind him. Enough to pull strings as he devised and sets his plans in motion. Rounding off the remaining main cast are Rachel, a prostitute portrayed by Hannah Wright and Jeff Haltom as George. Taking back the streets has always been the battle call of small minded people and fanatics. Turning a sentiment that should be considered good, into something twisted. The real question is why these people don't understand, that when things get out of hand, it's them that are breaking the law? These people, especially in the case of this film, are murdering other humans! I would like to write that "Hongo" forgets this little detail, and that it doesn't make sense because of it. Real life has taught me different. People like this do exist. The "greater good" equation, giving them a sense they're doing the world a service by committing a crime. Of course, there's no question that in "Hongo" Jim is off-kilter to start with, and enjoys what he's doing more than he should. "Hongo" ends up being one part social opinion and one part zombie action film. At some point, the players don't really matter any more. It's all about survival. Big themes and concepts for a film with almost no cash backing it. The end result will probably surprise a lot of people. On the technical front, Jaron Lockridge fought the battle and maybe didn't quite win, but also didn't lose. My main issue was that "Hongo" was a very uneven film. We've got some great cinematography, especially some of the scenes at the start of the film. Traditional, well lit and composed shots that really are eye pleasing. And then - you got the rest. A film that feels like a direct sequel to The "Blair Witch" project. Shaky. All over the place and really distracting. There's nothing more jarring than trying to watch an actor work their arse off, creating a believable character, and having the camera pan left with a jolt. Then right. Then down and back up. Then do the shake rattle and roll. I've said it once and I'll say it again. When did this style of filming become acceptable? Especially when you've established that you can frame great shots earlier in the film? Another irritation was the lighting and colors. Especially during the outdoor scenes, that make up a lot of the film. Racoon eyes prevail in this movie. As do color issues such as a well lit face in one shot, followed by an "OK" shot, followed by a horrendously lit shot, that happens to be a continuation of the first shot. These are all in the same scene, and many of these issues could have been fixed with a simple brightness/contrast adjustment. This is a low budget film. I understand that. I also know that more work could have been put into the post production, to try and clear some of this stuff up. Visual elements aside, "Hongo" is still a good film. Maybe a little long winded in the length, especially the lead-up and introductions, but not all that bad. The story is a good one, the actors all do quite well and the general "feel" of the movie fits the story. You may find yourself thinking about some of our social policies and ideals. "Hongo" may even give you a deeper understanding of our flawed social and justice system. At heart however, it is a film about hunting. Hunting people. Not just the hunting that takes place in the woods, but also the hunting of people who "you" don't feel deserve to be alive. Becoming a self proclaimed judge, jury and executioner. I won't deny the appeal of this film. I also won't deny the skill it took to smash these different concepts together into a coherent production, with so little to work with. For me "Hongo" meant many different things. The big crowd draw in this movie would probably be the zombie-type aspect. For others, perhaps the hunt and survival elements. For myself, the issues of our society today was far more interesting. I wish it had a more prominent role. As an independent low budget film, "Hongo" manages to get a lot right. Not everything, but enough to make me "not" want to hit that stop button. I've watched larger studio films that I simply couldn't sit through without taking breaks. This wasn't one of them. Not every film has to be perfect to entertain. I submit my humble thoughts for your consideration. Seen the film? Drop a thought below.