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The Hamiltons (2006)

Four young adult siblings try to fend for themselves after the mysterious death of their parents. But they harbor some dark secrets which include abducting and killing strangers, and feeding them to a mysterious ‘thing’ living in their cellar.

The Hamiltons is a 2006 horror film directed by the Butcher Brothers (Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores). It was selected for the film festival, 8 Films To Die For, and was part of After Dark’s HorrorFest for 2006.

A suburban family harbors a dark secret. When their parents are killed in a tragic accident, the eldest Hamilton sibling David (Samuel Child) relocates the surviving family members to a quiet California suburb. He has the responsibility of working to provide for the family, whilst at the same time struggling with his homosexuality. Naturally as the oldest he assumes the responsibility of caring for his orphaned teenage siblings; Wendell (Joseph McKelheer), Darlene (Mackenzie Firgens), and Francis (Cory Knauf). While twins Wendell and Darlene seem to share a bizarre incestuous bond that separates them from the rest of the siblings, Francis acquires a video camera that previously belonged to his deceased parents and sets out preparing a school project about his family. This is how we spend a lot of the movie, just watching through the all-seeing lens of Francis’ roving camera, and this begins to reveal that something malevolent is going on inside the Hamilton’s picturesque abode.

I have to give a little detail away, otherwise there will be nothing to pique your interest. I won’t spoil very much at all, and believe me you really don’t want to read anything anywhere about the ending, as that is easily the best part of the film. I won’t be spoiling that here don’t worry.

Whilst the family seem normal from the outside, in their spare time they also kidnap innocent people and tie them up under their house, with the intention of draining their blood to feed it to something locked away in their basement. We get to spend some time with the victims, and not all the family enjoy what happens to them. This is a great dynamic to see, and gives us viewers a chance to bond with at least one of the family, since the rest are so hard to connect and sympathise with.

The Hamiltons is a slow burn at times, but with a short run time there is definitely enough action to keep you entertained. The story is simple enough and at times is just like any family drama. They are a family that do the best they can anywhere they live, until people start disappearing, and they have to move again before they draw attention to themselves. Struggling with their murderous, nomadic existence and what it takes for them to survive, Francis is at a crossroads…should he pitch in and help them continue to do what they do, or should he tear the whole family apart in the hopes of finding a more “normal” way to live? That is the dilemma and most interesting part of the movie, and Francis is far and away the most interesting character.

The acting is actually very good here. The family are all unique and different enough to be interesting, and whilst as I mentioned earlier I found it hard to really sympathise with most of them, Francis is the one member of the family that is the key to making us viewers appreciate the film. Cory Knauf does a superb job playing Francis, and it’s thanks to him I enjoyed the film as much as I did.

Visually the film is a mixed bag. Since we see some of it in a conventional style, and some through various angles of Francis’ camera, there are obviously elements of ‘shaky-cam’ footage that can polarise audiences. I actually didn’t mind it, and it wasn’t off-putting at all in my humble opinion. The opening scene for example with a victim has a lot of fast cuts, it actually reminded me of the SAW movies. We get to see just enough to give us the knowledge that this girl is in trouble, but cutting away every time ‘something’ happened so we never see who or what is after her. Good stuff.

The movie does drag a little towards the end, but then the action ramps up again and the ending is superb. All the reveals and reasons they do what they do makes the rest of the film feel better, and it sets things up nicely for a sequel. Since this movie was released in 2006, the sequel has finally arrived in the shape of ‘The Thompsons‘ (2012) and you can see my thoughts on that HERE.

Despite the poster insinuating a Texas Chainsaw Massacre style bloodbath of a movie, The Hamiltons actually isn’t that gory. There are a few moments of violence, and a little weird game of incestuous ‘truth or dare‘ (well, dare or double dare) but its much more of a drama than the horror it was certainly marketed to be. That being said, I enjoyed The Hamiltons, and despite it dragging it’s heels in the middle of the film, the ending and twist more than made up for it and I was happy to hear a sequel was finally out. It would have been a waste of a perfect ending otherwise. You can definitely do a lot worse than checking out The Hamiltons.

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26 Comments

  1. I’m gonna look out for this. Saw a trailer for The Thompsons last week and it looks interesting

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    • Having just seen The Thompsons I can’t wait to post my thoughts on it. The Hamiltons is good but the sequel is better 🙂 Helps to have seen this one though for continuity

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  2. I saw The Hamiltons and liked it. I need to see The Thompsons. Is it out on DVD?

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    • It came out on DVD here in the UK a couple of weeks ago. I think distribution has been agreed for the US but not sure if it’s out yet for you. Really enjoyed the sequel, more than this one, my review will be up this weekend but I hope you can track down a copy, especially as you liked The Hamiltons.

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  3. theipc

     /  November 9, 2012

    These After Dark films can be pretty risky IMO, so I’ve never given this much thought. Maybe I will if I can find it for cheap or free so I can come back and argue with you. : )

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    • Yeah After Dark are a mixed bag, but there are some good ones, just need to search through all the crap.

      I hope you track it down, although as Ive mentioned above, the sequel is even better so that might convince you some more. Look forward to you disagreeing 🙂

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  4. wordschat

     /  November 9, 2012

    I see if its on Netflix or Xbox video. Sounds like a decent thriller drama .

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  5. Looks cool, going to add it to my wishlist.

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  6. This sounds really familiar and uber cool.

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  7. It was alright, at the very best……

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  8. kloipy

     /  November 12, 2012

    Great review Tyson. That poster definitely does cause a moment of pause

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  9. Fun fact: My friend’s ex-wife did the costume design for this film!

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  1. The Thompsons (2012) | Head In A Vice
  2. Kill Theory (2009) | Head In A Vice

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