Especially when it comes to the horror genre, there are micro-budget features that get a relatively decent distribution. Horror movies are easy to market and, more often than not, horror fans are content as long as they get startled once or twice within the runtime. It’s rare, though, for this super-independent horror flicks to be anything more than low-budget and lowbrow entertainment.
This is way it comes as an exceptional surprise when one of these movies has qualities that impressively overcome budget restraints and lack of experience, as it’s the case with Here Comes Hell. It’s even more astounding to think that this British horror-comedy isn’t just your typical indie flick: it’s a Kickstarter project that took 2 years to be made, managed to scrape together a mere £22,000 budget and features a first-time writer and director, who cowrote the film with his girlfriend!
Here Comes Hell really shows how talent, originality, inspiration and passion (check the interview with Jack McHenry at the Glasgow Frightfest here) can overcome any obstacle and turn restraints into opportunity. The movie can be described as “Downton Abbey meets The Evil Dead”, as the director claimed, since it follows five old school friends who are invited to Westwood Manor for a night of revelry and reunion. However, when a séance goes wrong and a gateway to Hell is opened, the guests must put down their champagne glasses, take up arms and fight for their lives.
Continue reading and check my final grade below…
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What really makes the difference for the best in this picture is that Here Comes Hell doesn’t just pay homage to 50s horror cinema (with a dash of Sam Raimi’s style), but it aims to recreate the look and feel of this kind of movies. Just like those flicks about the Universal Monsters, Here Comes Hell is shot on black and white film with a square aspect ratio, which provides the film with an instantly genuine atmosphere. If you didn’t know beforehand that this movie was completed in 2019, you might think it genuinely is a lost picture from 70 or 80 years ago. The talent and care put into this project extend to the cinematography and soundtrack: both these aspects are very retro and seem to be achieved using technology from decades ago.
As much as the first half of this 75-minute-long film might appeal mostly to cinema buffs, the second half of Here Comes Hell will be truly satisfying to horror fans in general and lovers of Sam Raimi in particular. Once the gates of hell are opened, this atmospheric pictures turns into a horror extravaganza filled with gore, good scares and fitting British humour, topped with a good dose of self-awareness and respectful homage.
Even though neither the classic aspects nor the gory horror-comedy moments are original onto their own, the unique mashup of these two elements somehow works in favour of Here Comes Hell, making it a unique and exhilarating piece of low-budget filmmaking. The story itself doesn’t bring anything new to the table – we’ve seen haunted house-type movies since the 1940s – but the thoughtful and precise presentation makes this film truly stand out. After all, where else can you watch a possessed character with a dinosaur head in place of his hand?
Although they might go unnoticed due to how entertaining and unconventional this film is, there are a couple of sizeable issues with Here Comes Hell. The first one revolves around pacing, because the second half of the movie is truly exciting and action-packed, but it also features a couple of moments when nothing relevant or interesting happens. Secondly, some of the acting doesn’t really capture the 50s feeling this movie was going for: the performances are supposed to be purposely over-the-top and theatrical, but they often come off as wooden and annoying when the actors try too hard to deliver the intended feeling. In terms of minor complaints, the way dialogues are filmed can feel a bit dull and workmanlike at times; also, there’s a glaring continuity error revolving around characters breathing: some of them have air coming out of their mouth, as though it was really cold where they filmed, whereas some others don’t, as though they were shot in a different location.
None of these flaws affected my viewing experience in any way, though: even the instances of bad acting, which would bother me in a more serious picture, were quite easy to overlook due to the self-awareness this movies wears like a badge on its sleeve. Here Comes Hell and its young director, Jack McHenry, truly amazed me and I’m excited to hear he’s already working on two new projects (a horror movie and an action flick): whether you’re fond of purposeful filmmaking or odd horror-comedies, you should give this movie a chance as soon as you can.
Here Comes Hell 7/10
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