15 April 2024
H4z4rd artwork

Fantastic Fest Film Review – H4Z4RD (2022)

This gobsmacking blast through the streets of Antwerp in a pimped gold Lexus is pure adrenalized entertainment. Flamboyant, stylish, rebellious, and unfeasibly loud it is also the most quintessentially European movie of the year.

Noah Hazard adores his motor to the point of unhealthy obsession. From personalised number plates  to twinkling dashboard lights his heart dances to the thrum of its overtuned engine. He even wears a tracksuit that matches its decadent livery.

However, when ex-con Carlos offers him a way to make easy cash his life is sent into a frenetic tailspin that will push his loyalties, his sanity, and his driving skills to the edge of lunacy and beyond. Just like the blossoming crack in Noah’s windscreen, he must repair the damage done quickly or watch everything he loves disintegrate.

Jonas Govaert‘s astonishingly pacey petrolhead porno takes a simple narrative recipe and whisks in farce, gore, horror tropes, darker-than-dark gallows humour, arthouse constructs, psychedelic animation, and an ear-humping soundtrack for the ages. The result is like being smashed repeatedly in the mush with a pristine Tom and Jerry frying pan whilst tripping balls in a sweaty Mediterranean super club.

The film is shot almost entirely from inside the immaculate interior of Noha’s prized Lexus. Something this reviewer confesses they did not process until about a third of the film had sped by. In my defence, the camera work is so inventive and artistically inspired that H4Z4RD never once feels anything like a single location experience.

Every nook and cranny of the car is utilised as a vantage point. Mirrors, exhaust ports, dashcams, and sunroofs become lenses and passing shop windows reflective prisms to accentuate the film’s dizzying world-building. What could have been a tiresome gimmick gives H4Z4RD an infectious identity and a sense of glamorous claustrophobia that adds subliminal power to its thrilling finale.

The plot, such as it is, revolves around stolen drugs and wronged psycho villains with a side hustle freshly burgled from Liam Neeson’s secret script stash. It’s all as relatively generic as it sounds but the movie crackles with such freewheeling energy and is populated by such vivid characters that it doesn’t matter. Imagine a mundane Uber ride to work that suddenly sparks into a crazy rollercoaster of Hitler moustaches, renegade werewolves, granade gangs, blood and guts slapstick, and excruciating rap monologues.

Then there is THAT sex scene. A cringe-inducing blackmail fuck that somehow manages to danger swerve the foreplay into an inexplicable netherworld where Deliverance goes down on Titane. If you are not familiar with the concept of objectum sexuality then you soon will be as this jaw-droppingly hilarious spectacle crashes joyfully through the thin ice it was already skating on, and sticks a proud middle finger up as it sinks to the morally murky depths below.

H4Z4RD wedges a breezeblock over its accelerator peddle and plays chicken with genre expectations until you are bludgeoned into blissful submission by the whole addictive mess. Catch it on the big screen if you can because it’s as ravishing as it is wild.

★★★★

NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE

Car Chase Thriller, Action, Black Comedy | Belgium, 2022 | 86 mins | Dream Big Productions| Dir. Jonas Govaerts| With: Tom Vermeir, Jennifer Heylen, Frank Lammars, Dimitri ‘Vegas’ Thivaios, Tim Mielants.


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