Sunday, April 3, 2011

Horror Film Review

Hell's Ground (2007):  Zombie flick!  From Pakistan!  It was promoted as Pakistan's "first gore film."  Sounds interesting, eh?  Especially with that crazy movie poster over there that says (if you squint) Texas Chainsaw Massacre meets Dawn of the Dead.  Oh, if only saying it made it so. 

I've never seen a horror movie that's so weird and so dull at the same time.  There's really two stories here and neither makes a lick of sense.  The initial premise is tried and true, though:  a group of teenage friends are driving to a concert and decide to take a short cut.  (Honestly, what good has ever come from taking a short cut?)

So the friends.  There's Vicky (Kunwar Ali Roshan) the ladies man and driver of the van; Roxy (Rubya Chaudhry) is the whining rich bitch we want to see dead almost immediately; O.J. (Osman Khalid Butt) is the stoner you just know will come to a sticky end; Ayesha (Rooshanie Ejaz) is the quiet, innocent one; and Simon (Haider Raza) is sort of the geek/nerd  of the bunch.  They grab lunch at a roadside cafe where the creepy owner warns them that they are entering hell's ground.  Soon thereafter, we find the van stopped and O.J. out by a stream puking up said lunch.  Something bites his leg, O.J. says it was a man with a messed up face, and they take off.  Next comes the first weird part.

Driving down a dirt trail in the middle of nowhere, Vicky stops the van because a zombie horde suddenly appears in front of them.  I have to say, it was strange to see zombies in traditional Pakistani garb.  Just not something you see every day.  Anyway, there's a short skirmish and then the kids are safely away.  We are then given a gratuitous gore shot of the zombies feasting on someone's innards.  And that's it for the zombies.  It's almost like the zombies were an afterthought tacked on because the other part of the story wasn't interesting enough.  Speaking of which...

The van runs out of gas, Vicky walks to a house, and has the misfortune to run into Leatherface's Muslim cousin who, we learn, is called Baby.  Baby wears a bizarre white burqua with one eyehole and swings this ridiculously huge spiked ball from a chain when chasing down his victims.  The backstory of Baby is muddled and ultimately pointless, and the connection between Baby and the zombies isn't made clear.  At any rate, the friends get bumped off one by one as we'd expect until Ayesha goes all Rambo on Baby's ass.  

How this film managed to be so free of suspense and tension is beyond me.  The characters act so illogically sometimes that you want to scream at the screen.  Case in point:  O.J. is sitting on the floor of the van, hacking up blood, obviously turning into a zombie, but the rest of the group totally ignore him.  And Roxy just runs out into the woods by herself.  Why?  Beats the hell out of me.  As you know, people who act idiotically in a horror film do pay for it.  One other thing that made little sense was the language.  The friends speak Urdu and we read subtitles (deal with it).  However, every third or fourth sentence is spoken in English.  Why?  I'm thinking it was done just to irritate us.

The Breakdown

Acting:  Not too annoying but bad enough to make you think you could do better.  Raza as Simon is probably the best of the lot. 
Story:  Definitely not Dawn of the Dead and also not enough of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.  At best, it's a mish-mash of proven ideas that never gels. 
Direction:  This movie is like the kids in the van; lost and eventually out of gas. 
Production Values:  Well, it's on film so that's a plus.  Otherwise, it's mostly shot outside...hard to screw that up. 
Gore/FX:  The zombie make-up and gore is quite good.  Too bad it only lasted a few minutes.  The nastiness in Baby's workshop is also above par. 
The Ending:  Oddly enough, I kind of liked it, even though I saw it coming a mile away.
The Verdict:  Should you see Hell's Ground?  I say yes only because of the novelty of it.  I mean, the first gore film to come out of Pakistan?  Just like Evil, the first zombie flick out of Greece, how could you say no? 

My Rating2 out of 5 stars. 

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