H4Z4RD (2022)

Director: Jonas Govaerts
Writer: Trent Haaga
Cast: Dimitri ‘Vegas’ Thivaios, Jeroen Perceval, Frank Lammers, Jennifer Heylen, Gene Bervoets, Mila Rooms, Monic Hendrickx
Part of: SLASH Filmfestival
Seen on: 23.9.2022

Noah (Dimitri ‘Vegas’ Thivaios) loves three things in his life: his girlfriend Lea (Jennifer Heylen), his daughter Zita (Mila Rooms) and his car. And he probably spends most of his time on his car. He is unemployed, and so when his cousin Carlos (Jeroen Perceval) who was just released from prison, tells him about a job where he’d need Noah as a driver, Noah accepts, despite Lea’s cautioning. But the job turns into a worst case scenario of epic proportions that puts everything that Noah loves and himself at risk.

H4Z4RD is a really good time that turns a rather standard plot into an actual adventure that definitely had me laughing.

The film poster showing Noah (Dimitri 'Vegas' Thivaios) and Carlos (Jeroen Perceval) standing very disheveledly next to a burning car. Noah is holding a heck spoiler. There's also a wolf.

The camera in H4Z4RD basically never leaves the car. That is not only a cinematographic feat to pull off at all, it’s also done in such a good way that you barely notice it. It just feels so natural – and that’s really impressive. (Govaerts – who was at the festival – said in the Q&A that there was no room for visual improvisation because the space with the camera in the car was just so limited. Apparently that’s not his preferred method of working, making it twice as cool that it works so well.)

I was also quite taken with Thivaios’ performance, especially when I heard that he isn’t actually a professional actor. No matter how wild the film gets around him, he is always an emotional anchor point. There is a haunting scene where everything around and in the car is drenched in kaleidoscopic lighting and loud music, and he just cries silently – it’s a magical moment, and exemplary of his presence throughout. It’s also necessary to make the touching ending work and not come out of nowhere – and it absolutely does.

Noah (Dimitri 'Vegas' Thivaios) driving. He is screaming, his face is bloody.

But most of the time the film is just wild and pretty funny. The humor can get quite crass, and it doesn’t always work for me, but for the most part, we got along really well and I could laugh a lot. “You’re a pony, I’m a T-Rex” is an actual line from Carlos’ rap (of course, Carlos is the kind of dude who’d rap) and it is still absolutely hilarious to me.

With all that’s going on, it’s easy to overlook that this kind of story is nothing we haven’t seen before. In this case, that doesn’t really matter though. If you fill it with enough energy (and an EDM soundtrack), it will still feel fresh.

Noah (Dimitri 'Vegas' Thivaios) and Carlos (Jeroen Perceval) sitting in the front seats of the car, looking back. They both have blood on their faces.

Summarizing: really entertaining.

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