Hello Herman movie review starring Norman Reedus

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With school shootings on the rise in the United States, it’s no wonder someone finally created the film Hello Herman, which looks at the psychology behind a shooter and shows the side people don’t care to see but should. In Hello Herman Norman Reedus plays the leader role of Lax Morales, a journalist and former white supremacist who is known as a liberal blogger. Garrett Backstrom plays Herman Howard, the 16 year old who decides to massacre his high school by killing 39 students, 2 teachers, and a police officer. He wants to tell his story on Lax’s show, and he has apparently done his research on Lax beforehand. He digs into Lax’s past history as a former neo-Nazi, awarded hero of the KKK, and member of the B.O.A.S.S., which stands for Brotherhood of America SS. This is the reason why he chose to tell Lax and only Lax about his story.

Being inspired by events like Columbine, the writer and director use the film to really dig into the motives and history of the shooter’s past, creating behavior patterns as motives. Much of the blame for Herman’s behavior is placed on his absentee dad, the death of his sister, his pill-popping workaholic absentee mother, and the ease of acquiring a gun as a kid at Walmart. He was also bullied pretty badly and repeatedly, never once standing up for himself. This seemed to be the motivation for him to want to kill his fellow students. Lastly he admits that like all school shooters, he did it for fame to be remembered in history. The only difference is that he didn’t kill himself or die in a shoot-out like the others because he was prepared to face the consequences. His plans were well thought out and nearly perfect, gaining all the information from the internet. Of course his mom is blamed for not monitoring his usage, but as a mom she responds by saying that every parent knows if they stop their kids from doing something, they will find a way to do it anyways, which is a very good point. Herman, the shooter, then gives reasons and answers that seem to make him beyond his age, but still messes up common knowledge and shows that even with everything, he really is just a messed up child.

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The film really seemed to humanize Herman and shows him as a person compared to a cold-blooded killer; for example, James Holmes, Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, and Adam Lanza. It instead gave reasoning to his motives, showing the victims as bullies and assholes who deserved what was coming, somewhat making him an anti-hero due to the reason behind why he did it. Lax even seems to sympathize with him, and it’s shown who he kills vs. who he only injures and why.

I didn’t like the fact that they made this kid a hero, who would be dying for his sins to almost justify his actions. Generally indie films hold pretty subtle political undertones, but this movie fully exposed them, creating a Fox-like news channel and female republican representative who acts harsh and somewhat stupid (it makes the film seem more like direct attacks to the Republican Party and capital punishment than a film to help us understand why school massacres occur).

This point is then brought to a ridiculous conclusion after discussing a Call of Duty-like game and another where you go into a post office and kill everyone, where you are awarded extra points for shooting them in the face. Lax poses two questions to Herman, which is followed up by a scene of Herman shooting out with a semi-automatic handgun and an Uzi.

Lax “Do you think that playing games, like the ones you play numb you to violence?“

Herman “I don’t understand the questions.”

Lax “Did it make it easier for you to go into your school and shoot your peers?”

Herman “Yeah of course it did, how do you think I became such a good shot?”

Anyone who has ever shot a handgun or rifle knows that just because you are great at Call of Duty, it does not mean you are a crack shot. There is no connection between the two and as person who visits the gun range regularly; this is just a ridiculous point. It would be as if I attempted to fly a plane thinking I could because I beat Starfox dozens of times.

In the end after Herman’s fate is decided, he cries and states that he is a human being like the rest of the world, thus again creating an illusion that we as an audience should empathize with him. I didn’t agree with Lax’s last scene where he is almost hypocritical in his actions and speech, essentially doing exactly what he just told others not to.

Hello Herman very much reminded me of what I would consider to be the little step brother of the film American History X, providing an insightful look on topics people don’t really want to discuss. Besides the politics of the film, which I do not agree on at all, the film was actually solid. It started off a bit rocky with the acting and editing, but both Norman Reedus and Garrett Backstrom provide a very strong acting performance that made it very believable. This is a film that definitely did deserve the awards it received, but it also proves that Norman Reedus isn’t just a kick-ass actor who kicks ass, but is also a serious actor who should be in more dramatic roles like this. Besides my own political beliefs and disagreements with the politics of the film, I still would recommend it.

Grade: B

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About author

Robert Galvan
Robert Galvan 380 posts

For as long as he can remember, Robert asked the questions that others wouldn't about love, life, and death which brought about his interest in the human psyche and moral compass, resulting in an infatuation with comics, zombies, and movies leading to a long standing relationship with his imagination.

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