The television crew of a hidden camera show select Jacob, a young man who is having problems adjusting after his father’s death, as their latest victim. After having a good laugh at his expense the tables are turned and they find themselves trapped inside a boarded-up building with an axe-wielding maniac.
From the outset Hazard comes with a stark warning not to push those close to the edge. In this rough around the edges but fun thriller, Lou Simon directs a cast of unknown actors including Aniela McGuinness, Todd Bruno, Giordan Diaz and Norbert Velez. Set in the remains of an empty abandoned factory where a fire gutted the interiors, the film quickly establishes the story, as most television shows do, via one-on-one interviews with the “friends” of the intended victim Jacob (played here by Norbert Velez).
It is after this point in the film where the fateful ‘scare’ is initiated and poor Jacob is pranked. His friends and the production team laugh at Jacob’s reaction, but not for long as his mind snaps causing him to make good use of his axe skills. It is from this moment that the story is told though Simon’s attempt at driving suspense whilst throwing in a few creative but dated practical effects. The film does retain a sense of fun about it but any real threat or danger quickly erodes do to the lack of any interesting characters or plot developments.
This said, Norbert Velez is great as Jacob/Hazmat. He becomes quite menacing in his boiler suit and with his blood stained axe. I am certain that he would give Jason Vorhees a run for his money. Sadly the rest of the cast are as forgettable as their death scenes. On the other hand the setting of the film was great. The narrowly lit corridors of the abandoned building are genuinely creepy and if Simon would have employed a keen eye for misdirection and featured more intense kills the overall impact of the film would have made watching this film a much more enjoyable experience.
Hazard is not all doom and gloom. There’s still some power behind its strike and it remains unmerciful. The film certainly gives birth to a screen villain whose killer instinct is simply relentless.
All in all, Hazard is a far from perfect film but it does play to all the standard slasher tropes that will surely resonate with fans that have a penchant for b-movie horror.
Words by Jon Dickinson (@marvelguy)