High School Tragedy
Sometimes a movie packs such a wallop it stuns me. For example, after watching Hello Herman yesterday, Iím still in a state of shock. In fact, I find it difficult to put my feelings into words. This powerful film directed and produced by Michelle Danner focuses on a 16 year-old boy who goes into his high school one day and kills 39 students, two teachers and a police officer. The disturbed youngster wants to tell his story to a journalist he admires, so the movie consists primarily of these chilling conversations.
During the unusual interactions between the killer and his interviewer, we learn what led up to this horrific crime. We also begin to think about how other individuals and situations -- including bullies, unconcerned teachers, a distracted mother, availability of guns, etc. -- may have contributed to the terrible tragedy as well as what can be done to prevent mass shootings like this one.
Hello Herman benefits considerably from the intense performances of Garrett Backstrom and Norman Reedus as the troubled teen and his conflicted interrogator, respectively. Backstrom excels at projecting a variety of moods. Heís angry and sullen at one moment, then sad or cocky the next. Reedus looks like his character has the worries of the world on his shoulders during most of the film, and through flashbacks we get to know why. Like so many viewers, Iíve enjoyed Reedusí excellent work in TVís The Walking Dead, but I think heís even better here.
Fine support is provided by lovely Martha Higareda as the journalistís love interest, by Rob Estes as an over confident newsman and by Michelle Danner herself as the confused mother of the shooter. One poignant scene with Danner is a show stopper! No wonder sheís a successful acting coach as well as a filmmaker.
Written by John Buffalo Mailer, this unflinching drama pulls no punches regarding the death penalty for teens who go on a mass shooting spree. It even throws in the possibility of televising the execution. I would have preferred more scenes with protests against the death penalty, but thatís a minor complaint. Because of recent massacres in Aurora and Sandy Hook, Hello Herman emerges as a timely and highly important movie offering.
(Released by Freestyle Releasing; not rated by MPAA.)
For more information about Hello Herman, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.