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This Place Hates You

by CrackedWire /


Sheridan’s Those Who Wish Me Dead surprisingly offers an enjoyable and rather ominous portrait of our current predicament. Spoiler warning: the movie follows a young boy and his father who are on the run from two hitmen who were supposedly hired by those implicated in the father’s financial investigation. After the father falls victim to the hitmen, the young boy, Connor (Finn Little), teams up with Hannah (Angelina Jolie), a firefighter haunted by her past failures, to survive through the night.Though criticized as being a “90s style action film,” Those Who Wish Me Dead presents two contradictory viewings that both have a bearing on the “90s” style critique.

The first viewing, perhaps the more critical of the two, lies in how the film still has a naive hope that once the large conspiracy involving the wealthy and powerful comes to light, the problem will magically be solved. If this doesn’t scream 90’s-Clintonite-the-power-of-journalism, I don’t know what does. Either way, the film abruptly ends with Hannah and Connor affirming that they will make it through an uncertain future as a news van rolls up to heroically solve the political crisis and “keep the powerful accountable.” In this viewing, the film had the holy trinity of police, firefighters, and the press. Not only are cops and the forest service here to protect us from fires and bad guys, but the press will surely make those who had the father killed face the utmost scrutiny. I’m sure an avid Biden supporter will sleep easy tonight.

The second view involves the sense of uncertainty throughout the film. There is undoubtedly a sense of confusion surrounding the roles of the characters. The sheriff, (Jon Bernthal, whose image of the The Punisher still haunted his role), though at first playing a paternal and concerned role for Hannah winds up being rather inconsequential. This is especially the case when compared to his pregnant wife, Allison (Medina Senghore), who single-handedly defends herself from the hitmen, maims one of them, and ends up dispatching Aiden Gillen. Later, long after the radio confirms that the fire started by the hitmen is “0% contained,” firefighters are seen triumphantly parachuting out of an airplane over a desolate field of ash. One can’t help but feel that these too were somewhat inconsequential. Last but not least, the press van simply shows up and does nothing further than to, with a flourish of seriousness that only news commentators can employ, slam the doors of the van and rush off screen. I don’t even need to elaborate on the feats accomplished by these heroes.

In this view, the 90’s era component lies more in Fukuyama’s famous (albeit misunderstood) “the end of history” than in any well-worn cliches. The world inhabited in this second viewing is haunted by past fires and failings. The constant headlines of scandals and conspiracies are too common to mean anything – one only has to look at Epstein, Snowden, or the Panama Papers to understand that. The police, firefighters, and press are always-already too late. What does this mean? The crime already happened. The fire has swept through leaving only ash. The police can only meander through a crime scene and knowingly assess the severity (if they weren’t the ones that committed it in the first place). So what lies ahead? The film surprisingly offers a glimpse at a collective path forward with Hannah and Connor’s affirmation that they will make it through together. Though, perhaps more importantly is Allison’s survivalist capacity to defend herself, persist despite the world burning around her, and defiantly offer up the best one-liner of the movie, “this place hates you too.” Presented by her sheer capability is a path forward that leverages the rage of the burned, exploited, and largely abandoned hinterland. Perhaps the fact that I am writing this review from the deep woods of the Northern Midwest colors my view, but the film’s collective affirmation, survivalist defiance, and persistence all amid an inferno made for a compelling and overdue 90s flick.

#movies #rural #popculture