They Found Hell (2015)

<strong class="MovieTitle">They Found Hell</strong> (2015)

(In French, On Cable TV, February 2019) With a title like They Found Hell, you would be forgiven to think that it would be a metaphor for the horrors of war or genocide or something along those lines. But as a look at the film’s TV-Guide description shows, They Found Hell actually means what it says in its title. It’s about a few students who actually literally open a portal to hell, step in and have to find their way back. Of course, there’s a catch: This is low-budget SyFy filmmaking at its most prototypical, meaning that we’re going to spend a lot of time watching characters run through disaffected Bulgarian factories at night, being chased by a burly costumed six-foot-something guy. On the menu for our characters: Going to hell, spooky pursuits and predictable deaths. As a made-for-TV film, They Found Hell does what it can with its budget and very obvious commercial break fadeouts: Its vision of hell has to do with backlit forests, a colour filter, random fires, some CGI and a few hanging bodies for ambience. The structure of the film isn’t sophisticated: Once our so-called-brilliant students are in Hell, they quickly split up and are killed one after another. It does get really boring really quickly as we look, usually in vain, for anything that would rise up to the level of the film’s gonzo title and premise. Eventually, there’s a mad-scientist riff because, at that point, why not? The individual levels/sequences of the film usually bring to mind the much better movies that They Found Hell rips off incompetently. The ending seems cheap even in a cheap movie during which we’ve hungered for anything more interesting than obviousness. Still, despite the easy potshots that one can take at anything coming from SyFy (have they ever produced a good film?) and the obvious limitations of They Found Hell, I actually found myself watching the thing until the end, which is more than I can say about other efforts. It’s certainly not good, but it’s not that terrible either.

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