It’s hard to look at ‘The Hater’ and not think about Dan Gilroy’s ‘Nightcrawler.’ Both films give us a glimpse of anti-heroes who exist in all of us. Along with that, while ‘Nightcrawler’ serves a dark satire to Television news, ‘The Hater’ introduces something similar through its pitch black depiction of fake online news. What fascinates me about ‘The Hater’ is not its exploration of a young sociopath, but its portrayal of the conditions that drive a young man to destroy the world around him purposefully.
For different viewers, ‘The Hater’ can be a lot of different things. As the title suggests, for some, ‘The Hater’ might come off as a film that shows how hate engenders hate. While for others, it might seem like a commentary on exploitative news and toxic digital sensationalism. But only when you watch the film from the perception of its main protagonist, you notice that, more than anything else, it criticizes capitalism.
The Hater Plot
‘The Hater’ centers on Tomasz, a smart and witty law student who gets the opportunity to study in Warsaw with the help of his wealthy benefactors, the Krasuckis. Over the years, the daughter of the Krasuckis, Gabi, even becomes his love interest, but the troubled young girl gives him no attention. Tomasz screws up when his university finds plagiarism in his work and expels him. But instead of seeing this as a pitfall, Tomasz takes it as an opportunity to put his social-psychological brilliance to good use.
The boy is a master of manipulation and also an expert in social media marketing. Solely using these skills, he sets out to climb the social ladder and, eventually, win Gabi’s heart. He lands a job at a shady PR company and helps them defame celebrities and politicians. But when he starts using his skills of inciting online hate to discredit a potential candidate for Warsaw’s mayor, things quickly go out of hand.
The Hater Review
At the film’s onset, Tomasz is just another ordinary college kid who carries big dreams on his shoulders. When his university expels him, he begs for them to forgive him this one time but fails to manipulate his way out the situation. During these scenes, as viewers, we can’t help but believe that Tomasz is a naive young man who’s doomed by his circumstances. But then the movie starts exploring the inner sociopathic workings of his character. Akin to other well-known sociopaths in films like ‘Taxi-Driver’ and ‘Nightcrawler,’ Tomasz perceives himself as an artist of some sort. Completely dismissing notions of morality or ethics, he carefully devises fake news campaigns only to watch the world burn. With his team of experts, he sets out to create his own dystopia just for the sake of acquiring a better social status.
What makes Tomasz’s character so unnerving and exciting at the same time is Maciej Musialowski’s performance. With his soulless and cold depiction of a calculative anti-hero, Musialowski almost carries the entire film on his shoulders. For Tomasz, inciting fake news is initially only a means for survival after getting thrown out of college, but it later manifests into a hateful obsession. Musialowski perfectly captures this catharsis his character goes through.
Other than its noir themes, the film carefully brings in some social satire that not only mocks fake online conspirers but also criticizes the ease with which one can spread hate through social media. There’s also some subtle commentary that highlights class divides between Tomasz and his benefactors who only pay his bills out of pity. All of these underlying themes hit home because even as a viewer, you’re not able to decide if you hate Tomasz or empathize with him.
All in all, even with its bloated runtime of two hours and fifteen minutes, ‘The Hater’ never leaves a dull moment and keeps you guessing what’ll happen next. You keep wondering if Tomasz will further descend into his antiheroism or eventually learn a crucial lesson from the consequences of actions. The film keeps you hooked throughout and only waits for its final moments to answer the big question—Will Tomasz Ever be Punished?
Read More: Where Was The Hater Filmed?