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TIFF 2014 Review: Hyena

On paper, this film worked great. A corrupt cop named Michael, (Peter Ferdinando) is forced to play nice with some ruthless Albanian criminals in this gritty crime drama.

The film features copious amounts of violence, (at one point, a few principals bathe themselves in blood from a helpless victim), fairly graphic sex and nudity, some subdued camerawork from director Gerard Johnson, a pulsing soundtrack, (which was came through, and worked extremely well), but otherwise…these fundamentals just did not translate to the screen in ways in which it could have.

Too many elements of Hyena ended up feeling too muted, or worse, derivative, like other films had done them before, and more effectively.

Especially troubling was the casual violence done towards women, especially Ariana, (Elisa Lasowski), who was clearly in a bad situation, but writer-director Johnson did give her a moment of catharsis, or freedom, and the cycle of violence did not stop or abate with her character.

Perhaps most upsetting about Hyena was the washed-out look of the film, which was likely necessary to match its icy cool tone, but just did not bring certain aspects into clear enough focus, and seemed to underlight many of the crucial dealings, resulting in muddy recall of critical scenes.

However, the performance by Fernandino, as the bloated, troubled Michael was a stand-out, and the surprise ending did provide a fair conclusion to Hyena’s murky and relatively laugh-free tale.

[star v=25]