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Few things are more frustrating than being an aspiring photographer, unless it’s being an aspiring photographer who just got dumped.
In Nate’s (Keith Poulson) case, the competition is an artist whose Manhattan gallery exhibit consists of his childish black-metal illustrations. Enter Young Torture Killaz, a teenage ICP analogue from Delaware whose song “I’ll Cut Yo Dick Off” Nate stumbles across on YouTube. He rationalizes his interest in the trio as an attempt to escape the “incestuous socialite shit” that plagues the NYC scene (said non-ironically while wearing a cardigan and yellow ski cap).
This is about the level of satire you can expect in Michael M. Bilandic’s Hellaware, a broad and occasionally disjointed indictment of the New York art scene and horrorcore rap that leaves no broad side of a barn untargeted. Eventually, Nate’s attempts to ingratiate himself (e.g., procuring “purple drank” for the band) bear fruit in the form of a gallery show of his own, but at the price of both his newfound friendships and his precious hipster credibility.
To Bilandic’s credit, no one gets off lightly. After only a few hours spent with the band, Nate’s friend Bernadette (Sophia Takal) — the movie’s sole voice of reason — points out the inanity of his “immersing” himself in a culture that’s actually little different from the drunken-arsonist lives typical of most rural adolescent populations. Teenagers may be “the worst,” as she says, but pretentious gallery owners (“Delaware, how exotic.”) and manipulative hipsters aren’t far behind. Lacking this self-(hella)wareness, it appears Nate is no better, or smarter, than anyone else.