Sunday, May 7, 2017


Hell (2011)

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Here's another movie with "hell" in the title. Is it hell-month over here? Probably not. Hell is set in 2016 after global temperature rose by ten degrees celsius, causing most of the human population to die out and society to disintegrate. A woman (Hannah Herzsprung), her younger sister (Lisa Vicari), her boyfriend (Lars Eidinger), and some guy they meet at a gas station (Stipe Erceg) face dehydration, starvation, burning hot sunlight, and cannibals, in an attempt to get to the mountains where they believe there were still be water.

The poster for this movie, as you can see, has "Roland Emmerich" written on it in big ass capital letters so I had very low expectations and as such was pleasantly surprised, for you see, Roland Emmerich only produced it. It was written and directed by other people. It's not a great movie, by any means, but it is also not a Roland Emmerich movie and that in itself is a form of greatness.

The film is pretty minimalist, with almost no music, little in the way of special effects, and bare bones cinematography, focusing instead on the characters and story.

The characters for the most part aren't all that great. The two sisters are pretty much useless through the first part of the movie, relying on the men to do stuff for them and making me wonder how they actually survived the apocalypse, until the older sister suddenly becomes really resourceful at the end in order to service the plot. The boyfriend is an utter dink, constantly trying to convince the main character to ditch the gas station guy and the little sister. Gas Station Man goes from attacking the group and trying to steal their water and shit to helping them with very little development (he has a short bonding scene with the younger sister and then he's, like, Mr. Man). The acting was pretty good, I think. For some reason on Shudder the movie, which is originally in German, was dubbed into French and then subbed in English, a combination which makes it pretty hard to tell how the acting was, but, like, everybody's facial expressions were spot on. The main villain (Angela Winkler) particularly would have been creepy in any language.

As well, the main story - a woman doing whatever she has to do to protect her little sister - is really compelling and believable. It's irritating that said woman seems to need a man to help her almost every step of the way, but hey, I'll take it. This is also the first movie I've seen that addresses menstruation in a post-civilized world. Like, as somebody who menstruates, every apocalypse movie I watch there's always a point where the thought "did they stockpile tampons?" trickles down my leg. They didn't really get into how unpleasant it would be, it was more "woo, I'm not pregnant" which would also be a really fucking valid concern in a world where hospitals and epidurals no longer exist and all condoms are expired forever and still never gets fucking brought up. So, you know. Post-apocalyptic horror movies with female characters who menstruate. That's the future the liberals want.

The qualms I had with the movie were three. The first, it travels very well trodden ground. No, I don't need to be blown away by originality every time I watch a movie because I'm not a total pretentious fuck (only like, 70% pretentious fuck because I use words like "pastiche"). But this movie feels like a pastiche of a bunch of other movies that have gone before. Like there's a part where the little sister gets grabbed by a roving gang of marauders and the older sister goes after her and she meets this woman who offers her water and shelter and like, I thought it was pretty obvious that this woman was aligned with the bad people and that they were probably eating people and that, if they were smart, they would use the girls as breeders. I mean, that's just, like, apocalypse 101 isn't it? And, yeah, that's what happens. Spoilers. That being said, this movie actually progressed sensibly enough that it wasn't that big of a deal.

Problem the second I mentioned before but the two female characters were just completely fucking useless through half the movie. That really bothered me. Like, there's a scene early on where the gang is travelling in their jeep and come across a fallen piece of a fucking radio tower or something across the road and of course the two guys get out to push it out of the way while the girls just sit in the car. Like, fuck you, get out and help them. Feminists didn't battle for equal rights for centuries for you to just sit there and watch while the menfolk rescue your asses. So then they decide that the three adults will push the thing while the younger sister hauls it out with the jeep, and the gas station guy has to give her a tutorial on how to drive stick. Okay, the girl's like fourteen, under regular circumstances she might not necessarily know how to drive, but under Apocalypse Circumstances where your ability to survive hinges on your vehicle, you need to know how to fucking drive. Also, there's this part where she has to pee and she wanders like way the fuck away from the jeep to do so. Fuck that. If I'm out in the woods at night, or even in the day time, I pee like three feet away from my buds. I'm not gonna wander off and get eaten by a fucking bear with my pants down around my ankles.

My final concern was that, okay, there's all these people on this farm that are eating people to survive because there's very little water and plants and farm animals can't survive anymore. That's fine, they've got their whole The Road thing going on, that's what I would do. As usual, they can't seem to find a way to cook human meat that makes it look in any way appetizing where realistically human meat probably looks a lot like any other kind of meat. Anyway, they've got the two girls to use for breeders so the family can persist. And I can't help but wondering why, ya know? Like, don't you think you're going to run out of other people to eat after a while? Aren't you just dooming the next generation to starvation once the human-meat runs out? Isn't it time to let the human race die?

Furthermore they've got a whole barn full of captured people to eat at their leisure but... like... what are they feeding those people if they don't have any food? Are they feeding them other people? That seems sort of counter productive. It would be much more efficient to capture people to order. Alternatively, they may all be crazy and eating people just for funzies. Again, that's what I would do. Post-apocalypse films are great for living out ones lawless fantasies and one of mine is finding out what people tastes like.

That got really personal. To conclude, this movie isn't really spectacular or action packed or any of that but it's actually not bad if you're into this particular sci-fi/horror subgenre.

Directed by: Tim Fehlbaum.  Written by: Tim Fehlbaum, Oliver Kahl, Thomas Woebke. Starring: Hannah Herzsprung, Lisa Vicari, Angela Winkler, Stipe Erceg, Lars Eidinger.

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