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The Hater review: Is this Netflix’s most important film?

Maciej Musialowski as Tomasz in The Hater
Maciej Musialowski as Tomasz in The Hater. Pic credit: Jaroslaw Sosinski/Netflix

There are a lot of ways to define a good movie. And for many of us, a great film can shake a viewer so hard that it changes the fabric of their soul.

The Hater might end up being that movie in 2020.

The film, which tells the fictional story of an expelled college student turned social media influencer, is ruthless in its depiction of how easy it is to cause chaos on a platform like Facebook.

And it just might be the smack in the face we all need in the most divisive period since the inception of the internet.

The Hater review: Should you watch Netflix’s latest movie?

The film stars Maciej Musialowski as Tomasz Giemza as a student recently expelled from college for plagiarism. He also has a weird obsession with the Krasucki family, who was funding his college, and more specifically, with a girl named Gabi (Vanessa Aleksander).

The story pulls no punches right out the gate showing how unusual Tomasz can be as a person. He is continuously placing devices and electronics around the Krasucki’s house to monitor what they think of him. He even puts a bug inside Gabi’s room to keep tabs on her at all times.

And in no way is the character meant to be likable. Tomasz is complicated, manipulative, and dangerous.

The character is the closest thing to memory compared to Matt Damon in one of his best thrillers, The Talented Mr. Ripley, where the viewer can’t stop watching as he destroys everything to pursue the things he wants.

And just like Tom Ripley, there’s a vulnerability in his darkness.

Maciej Stuhr as Pawell Rudnicki in The Hater
Maciej Stuhr as Pawell Rudnicki in The Hater. Pic credit: Jaroslaw Sosinski/Netflix

Maciej Musialowski brings a tour de force of a performance, without fail. This film hinges on him to carry the movie, and he does so from start-to-finish.

The best actors can communicate thought without saying a word. Most of the film requires Musialowski to do this behind a keyboard, and he delivers on the same disturbing scale as Matt Damon did as Tom Ripley.

Tomasz, relentlessly pursuing to win Gabi’s favor, joins a social media firm that ends up being a troll farm. This point is where the film becomes a monster of a story.

Tomasz uses all his weapons of manipulation to destroy a political election in which the Krasuckis have a stake.

And the result of his efforts is haunting as well as enthralling.

Once The Hater flies into this territory, it becomes clear that screenwriter Mateusz Pacewicz had a lot on his mind about social media and its ability to be weaponized.

Maciej Musialowski as Tomasz and Vanessa Aleksander as Gabi in The Hater.
Maciej Musialowski as Tomasz and Vanessa Aleksander as Gabi in The Hater. Pic credit: Jaroslaw Sosinski/Netflix

It’s such a critical discussion because most social media users share things without considering who the original poster is and their motivations for making the shared content.

The meme, video, or Facebook event could come from someone in the KKK or a foreign power posing as an American. Furthermore, someone could have made it to cause people to fight with their loved ones.

The Hater shows how easy this is for anyone with a computer, ambition, and dark intentions to sign up using fake accounts and cause turmoil with one click of the mouse. The results are riveting.

As the film pushes into the fray of social media warfare, it builds intensification to the point of something needing to pop. And where it leads is chilling.

Maciej Musialowski as Tomasz Giemza and Agata Kulesza as Beata in The Hater.
Maciej Musialowski as Tomasz Giemza and Agata Kulesza as Beata in The Hater. Pic credit: Jaroslaw Sosinski/Netflix

As far as issues with The Hater — the movie is rather long, clocking in at around 135 minutes. And somewhere around the middle, it suffers from pacing for a short period.

This pacing problem might have been solved by trimming some of the fat. Honestly, it’s hard to know what to cut from the film because so much is needed to explain the explosive finale.

There are a few plot moments involving video games that feel distractingly offbeat and probably could have been communicated differently.

That said, this is just reaching for nitpicks because, honestly, the third act is so relentlessly disturbing that it will be an afterthought by the time it’s over.

Overall Thoughts

The Hater is one of Netflix’s most essential and powerful films ever to be released on the platform.

In a period of online in-fighting between families, friends, and political parties, the film might change how we use social media in our daily lives. It demands us to question what is shared and who is sharing it behind the keyboard.

And that’s just the social commentary before viewing the film on its terms.

The Hater is one of the most disturbing films ever to be produced about social media trolls. It contains fantastic performances, brilliant writing, and might be a haunting wakeup call for everyone. The experience is unforgettable and could be one of the best Netflix Originals to be produced.

John Dotson is a film and television reviewer and commentator from Texas. His favorite part of what he does is getting to discuss film and... read more
John Dotson

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