I’m not the world’s biggest Linkin Park fan, but when I found that their jockey of discs, Joe Hahn, directed a thriller about one of my favourite movie subjects (mass murder) I just had to check it out immediately. Mall massacres, school shootings and other unfortunate tragedies have become too common of an occurrence in the real world in recent memory, but I have to admit that I love movies that deal with these issues. Mall deals with the events leading up to and after the events of a massacre; we follow a group of characters as they go through the motions of their existences, witnessing how they’re all connected and how the aftermath of the events affected them. The protagonist is a socially awkward pseudo-intellectual who thinks he has it all figured out; but through the ashes of the tragedy the night takes him on a journey of self-discovery which might just mark the first day of the rest of his life.
Mall opens on a sinister note as we witness a young man shoot his mother dead in cold blood before setting their trailer alight and making his way to the mall with a bag full of guns. Elsewhere, Jeff (Cameron Monaghan) is trying to woo aspiring teenage model, Adelle (India Menuez), with his brains; but she just wants the dick and some fries. After bumping into some friends, he drops some ecstasy and luckily avoids being shot. What ensues after the shooting is a series of events for each character as their true natures are revealed: Adelle is basically an emotionally desolate bitch who likes beating off perverts in handcuffs; the killer is hiding out in a nearby forest trying to as the police hunt him down; and Jeff makes his way to a bar where he meets a woman that triggers a series of weird occurrences for him throughout the night.
The central theme of Mall is emptiness and it’s evident in every characters personality: Jeff identifies himself as a wolf, based on a book and it’s not until a chance encounter with the killer that he eventually starts to find his own identity. Adelle is promiscuous and her existence is only validated through helping guys get off. The killer is an angry person of course, but he certainly left his mark on the world through his mass murdering antics, so power to the guy, I say.
Joe Hahn’s direction is gritty, but he does incorporate his music video past to great effect to enhance storytelling and convey drug trippiness. I’m eagerly anticipating his next project – whatever it may be – and I hope he considers directing movies for future consistent artistic output. Sure, there are a few minor flaws here and there: the characters backstories could have been fleshed out some more, for instance, but overall I found it to be a wonderful piece of cinema that was strangely uplifting. 8/10
Sam Bisbee (screenplay) & Eric Bugosian (novel)
James Frecheville, Cameron Monaghan, India Menuez