Jan Komasa’s ‘The Hater’, on Netflix, is a quietly chilling story about the virtual world’s revenge on the real world

Posted on November 28, 2020



Way back in 1999, ‘The Matrix’ felt like sci-fi fantasy. But today, the machines are indeed shaping us, controlling us, brainwashing us. We are all living in the Matrix.

In 2010, Polish filmmaker Jan Komasa forayed into the virtual world with Suicide Room. The title refers to a chat room for people with suicidal tendencies, and these are people who “function” better here than in the real world. The director’s new film, The Hater (on Netflix), is a kind of sequel. (That’s why, I think, both films feature an older woman named Beata.) The virtual world has grown exponentially in the decade between the two films, and it’s become increasingly possible to “live” there and create a world of your liking rather than face endless frustrations the minute you step out of your house and into reality.

The protagonist is a young man named Tomasz (Maciej Musiałowski), and the first few scenes are something like an “origins story” in a superhero movie. Why did Spider-Man want to fight crime? Because Uncle Ben died, and it helped that Peter Parker got bitten by a radioactive spider. Why did Bruce Wayne become Batman? Because Gotham City was rotting, and fighting this rot would help him expunge his own inner demons. Similarly, why does Tomasz turn into “The Hater”? Because he is expelled from college on a plagiarism charge.

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