FrightFest 2019: Here Comes Hell
Director: Jack McHenry
Writer(s): Alice Sidgwick and Jack McHenry
Starring: Jessica Webber, Margaret Clunie, Tom Bailey, Charlie Robb, and Timothy Renouf
A 1930's dinner party descends into carnage, gore and demonic possession in this genre-clashing horror comedy. Initial Reactions C. A big issue lately is the idea of merging two ideas together to make one movie. Sometimes this can result in inconsistencies, leading to the common critique of “it feels like two movies in one.” The second issue, especially with “genre” films, is the lack of embracing what the movie is. Some try to have a minimalistic, low budget concepts with plot devices that require a higher budget. Others try to be serious and “artistic” with a director’s image that lends itself to incorporating some comedic elements. Here Comes Hell doesn’t suffer from either of these issues. It knows exactly what it is, its budgetary limits and uses its influence blending to make a singular story. Yes, there are flaws but goddamn is it fun! Here Comes Hell will probably turn people away because of many factors surrounding its 1930’s style. The movie is not only set in the 1930’s but is made to look like one of the classic gothic films that would have come out at that time. There’s piano or violin accompanying all the dialogue, obviously fake backgrounds, even the actors are portrayed with that theatrical and detached presence that was found in the early decades of cinema. For these reasons, I was completely on board. As I stated above the movie embraces what it is in jest at times but everything is played completely straight and bland (in a good way, reference acting of the era), never crossing that line into the land of Scary Movie-parody. Obviously there are flaws in the presentation due to budgetary restraints or modern technology that doesn’t allow the film to look completely like a movie out of the 30’s but they do a very good job with what they have. So if you’re not a fan of the classic black & white Universal Monsters to gothic tales from England and France, you’re going to be bored, especially since it takes about 35minutes to get to the “horror” aspects of the story. Once the horror gets going, it’s full The Evil Dead, with Demon POV shots, possession, a portal to Hell, body dismemberment, and an Evil Dead 2 suit-up sequence where they have to venture into the basement. They play with some of these elements to incorporate their Great Gatsby-esque socialite humor, such as the suit-up sequence of making weapons is filled with cuts to glasses of liquor being poured and cigarettes being lit. Actually a common occurrence throughout is no matter how devastating a scene will be it will most likely end with someone asking if anyone else would “like a drink.” It does give a little too many nods to Evil Dead that the directors own artistic voice doesn’t shine through. Overall I found myself having a hard time noticing any major critiques, because the movie is in that fine place where any concern you could always chalk up to the style or it’s meant to be “purposefully” bad, cheap, whatever. So to the people at Trashouse Films, jolly good, old chaps. You took what you had to work with and made a splendid little movie. J. I had an absolute blast with this. Two things that are absolutely my shit are the 1930’s and The Evil Dead. This film is what would’ve happened if Ash and his friends were in that era and their shenanigans occurred in an old Gothic mansion instead of a cabin in the 80’s in Tennessee. In other words, this movie was exceptional. The characters aren’t necessarily original but they are all so different from one another that they stood out and were entertaining. I would say that the shenanigans here should’ve started sooner than the 30 minute mark or thereabouts. At only 72 minutes, we need to get to the shenanigans sooner! Once the carnage starts, the “rules” are a little unclear as well as far as how the evil works. You’ll see what I mean but this thing is so goddamn fun that no criticism I have spoiled anything for me personally. A fun game to play with this would be to have a watch party with your friends and match the characters drink for drink. Someone won’t make it I can assure you. K. This movie deserves a lot of credit it for having a sense of humor about itself and not being filled with pretension. The prologue lifted from Frankenstein (1931) and the Academy aspect ratio add a nice old-fashioned touch. The actors do a good job of playing their archetypal characters and fitting into the period, aside from Tom Bailey who feels miscast as George, the lone American in the group. Once the action starts the film hits its stride with horror-comedy gore reminiscent of the Evil Dead and this is by far the most enjoyable section. However, the faux Noel Coward banter and setup that leads up to this, consuming nearly half the running time, gets old very quickly. That along with the green screen effects, that stick out like a sore thumb, detract from what would be an otherwise welcome addition to the horror comedy genre.
Response C. I do admit after resting on my experience that the movie spends a little too much time on the set up with the old timey dialogue and classic gothic acting that you get to a point where you just want to get to the fun. However, I stand with my initial response that a lot of issues I was willing to let slide because its is very fun and knows exactly what it is. I don’t believe in order to have an entertaining movie, it needs to have comedy like this but in a sea of people trying to make “elevated horror” it was extremely refreshing. J. I’m telling you, if you are a fan of the elements we’ve mentioned, you’re gonna love this. There’s very little I have (or any of us) in the way of criticism and I think it’s due, in large part, to the fact that these folks knew exactly what they wanted to do and damn near did it perfectly. On a personal note, it was my favorite of the festival. A must see... K. I haven’t really changed my stance on this one. It had a much needed sense of humor and some good fun in the vein of Evil Dead 2, I only wished it started sooner with the gore and comedy and kept it up for longer. The ending felt awkward because the film tried to shift gears and suddenly become serious and it didn’t quite work. Bloodhound’s average score: 4 1/2 out of 5