Saturday, January 26, 2013

Horror Film Review

Hell (2011):  Post-apocalyptic flick from Germany.  No ghosts, zombies, monsters, or aliens as far as the eye can see.  Just good old fashioned humans being awful to each other.  And yes, there are subtitles and yes, deal with them.  Many reviewers of this film make much of the fact that "hell" in German means "bright."  Many reviewers also like to use the word "dystopian" to describe it.  Many reviewers are pretentious twits that would rather deconstruct minutia than discuss unimportant things like, you know, plot and acting and direction.  But hey, that's what I'm here for. 

The sun goes nuts, upping temperatures and the UV index to nearly unbearable levels creating hell on earth.  Yes, a bright hell on earth.  Sigh.  Anyway, we follow three survivors in a car heading for the mountains where rumor says rain is finally falling again.  Marie (Hannah Herzsprung) and her teenage sister Leonie (Lisa Vicari) hooked up with Phillip (Lars Eidinger).  Phillip's kind of a douche but he's the only game in town.  Then the mysterious and non-douche Tom (Stipe Erceg) joins the party.  The group is ambushed by some folks up to no damn good and Tom and Leonie are taken, thanks in part to Phillip's inaction.  Marie goes after them and runs into a nice lady who gives her water and takes her back to her family's farm.  As you may imagine, this family is not what you'd call normal.  Bat-shit crazy is more on the nose.  Why?  Well, the nice lady explains to Marie that their livestock are long gone and hey, this up-to-no-damn-good family have to eat something.  Eventually, Marie helps Leonie escape and then goes back to find Tom.  It's all quite exciting.  Phillips meets with a sticky end, though, which is what usually happens to douches in the movies.

Complaints.  No science.  They even go so far as to show a newspaper with the headline, "SCIENTISTS CLUELESS."  Given the story, however, it's not terribly important.  Also, every scene where the sun is super-duper bright, we're treated to a high-pitched whine that's like an icepick to the eardrum.  All movies do this and I don't understand why.  I know the first thing I associate with a sunny day is migraine-inducing whistling.  Now, I did like the bit with the birds.  Throughout the film, they'd see the occasional bird that seemed to be heading toward higher elevations.  Always good to have a symbol of hope in an otherwise crap situation.


Acting:  I can't find fault with any performance.  Each owns his role and makes you believe.
Story:  Post-apocalyptic tales aren't new, but the dark tone and stark realism brought to the fore make this one stand out.
Direction:  If it's German horror, you're guaranteed not to suffer from boredom.  True here.  Crisp and competent. 
Production Values:  I'm sure the budget wasn't a fortune, yet I can't find any problems.  Most scenes were shot outdoors (in Corsica of all places) and are properly depressing.
Gore/FX:  Given the subject matter, I was surprised by the dearth of blood.  Cannibal flicks usually warrant at least one scene of gratuitous carnage.  Nope.  Less is more in this case.
Scares:  There are a few very tense parts but not what I'd call scary.
Ending:  They find where the birds have been going.  Nice.
Verdict:  Should you see Hell?  I agree it's not traditional horror and my not be everyone's cup of tea, yet I do recommend it.  (Notice how I didn't use one cheesy "hell" expression like other reviewers?  Yeah, if I would have said, "Hell is a hell of a good time!" I would want you to find me and break my fingers with a rolling pin.)   

Rating:  3 out of 5

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