The Mad Hatter, 2021.
Directed by Cate Devaney.
Starring Armando Gutierrez, Nick Miller, Samuel Caleb Walker, Michael Berryman, Isadora Cruz, Dennis Mallen, and Rachel Brunner.
Henry, and three of his classmates, encounter mind-bending ghostly terror when they volunteer for a weekend study with their psychology professor in the haunted ‘Mad Hatter’ mansion.
No, The Mad Hatter has nothing to do with the goofy fellow from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but the movie still acknowledges that connection throughout its runtime by mainly spending it around the villa of a wealthy 19th century hatter whose favorite pasttimes included intoxicating masquerade parties, well-prepared tea, hormonal orgies, and getting nearly everybody high on drugs. Oh, and it just so happens that the hatter might be a madman as well.
This last point, however, is mainly inferred as opposed to shown. The Mad Hatter opens with a short scene where the Hatter’s daughter accidentally causes a fire during one of her father’s parties, killing everybody inside; not much is learned about the Hatter’s nature during this, and even after the movie then proceeds to jump over a century into the future for the remaining time, there is still very little expressed beyond the fact that all these years later he has become infamous.
There is a lot wrong with The Mad Hatter, with the writing being one of the most damning features. Our protagonists are four “modern” college students who are brought to stay at the villa for a few days by their odd parapsychology professor, David Hart (played by Armando Gutierrez), in an attempt to study how the supernatural affects them. The more that happens to them, and the more they can do to instigate things, the better. It’s alright if you’re a bit puzzled by this setup, because pretty much not a single thing happening in the movie is explained or justified, just thrown at the viewer and characters as soon as they can be dished out. Take, for instance, that right after the students sign up for the trip to the haunted villa, Henry (Samuel Caleb Walker) walks around on campus and is immediately confronted by the disturbing spirit of a little girl who flickers on and off like a broken projector image. This, plus anything creepy or alarming that boldly happens for the first couple days of the study, is brushed off.
Beyond the faulty setup, logic, and world-building (which is forced and insubstantial), faults in The Mad Hatter‘s writing go on; the dialogue is poor and tasteless, the characters aren’t fleshed-out people (plus have next to nothing in the personality department), scares are the same dried-up variations on repeat, and the twist ending is completely predictable.
More shade can be thrown at The Mad Hatter: The acting is flat. The CGI special effects are subpar. The music fits but is overdone. But sure enough, the movie drags on, feeling two times longer than it is. If this production was analyzed any deeper, the list of faults would go on even longer.
A small amount of credit is due to those people who put together a musty visual scheme that would have been more fully realized with better support from the rest of the production; the underwater shots alone promise something richer than The Mad Hatter is capable of putting together.
All in all, The Mad Hatter is a movie to avoid, even for consumers who like watching bad movies. There is a good chance that viewers will leave or turn this off in the first 15 minutes; and true to their suspicions, sitting through the whole movie and waiting for something to latch on to proves to be fruitless and just not worth it.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★