Saturday, February 15, 2014

Hell (2011)(Spoiler Review)

**This review contains spoilers**

In 2016, earth is a ravaged and desolate wasteland after solar flares destroyed the atmosphere. Together, Marie (Hannah Herzsprung), her little sister, Leonie (Lisa Vicari), and Phillip (Lars Eidinger) wander the deserted streets of Germany in a beat up and covered car. The group embarks on a mission to the mountains, so they can follow a rumor about a reliable source of water, but the car is on its last legs.

One day, the group stops at a seemingly abandoned gas station for more fuel and supplies. Suddenly, a stranger captures Leonie, but Phillip rescues Leonie during a fight with the stranger. After the fight, the stranger reveals himself as Tom (Stipe Erceg). Phillip allows Tom to join the group, and Tom agrees to lend a helping hand with his skills as a mechanic.

During a roadblock dilemma, the group unknowingly walks into a trap, when Phillip and Tom search an abandoned cabin in the woods for more water and supplies. Leonie is kidnapped, and after a botched rescue mission for Leonie, Tom is captured by the mysterious group of strangers.

Phillip was injured during the rescue mission, so he can’t walk. Marie leaves Phillip in a dark railroad tunnel for safety, but an exhausted and dehydrated Marie stops at an abandoned church for rest during the search for Leonie. In the church, Marie meets a local named Bauerin (Angela Winkler). Bauerin provides shelter and water for Marie at her farm, and Bauerin sends her son, Micha (Yoann Blanc) to help Phillip, but Marie discovers a horrifying secret at the farm……..

Well, I’ll get the stupid stuff out of the way first. Why would you leave Leonie, a girl, who’s barely in her teens, ALONE in a car with no weapons or protection? Phillip and Tom are still searching the abandoned cabin together. Marie carries an empty gas can to Tom and Phillip, and she leaves Leonie in the car alone? Ugh.

And to make matters worse, Hell throws in a clichéd relationship with Marie and Leonie. Marie fills the role of a protective big sister and a mother figure for Leonie, because their mother passed away after the solar flares. Of course, Leonie is a rebellious brat, who defies Marie’s authority, and Leonie is jealous of the relationship between Marie and Phillip. They never come out and say it, but it’s heavily implied Phillip and Marie are in a relationship in the beginning.

Remember Bauerin? Well, Marie unknowingly walked into Bauerin’s trap. Bauerin’s livestock perished after the solar flares, so Bauerin, her family, and another family living under the same roof found a solution for food and survival: Cannibalism. That’s right. With some help from Micha and other members of the farm, Bauerin uses the abandoned cabin to lure and kidnap fresh meat for food. The victims are forced to live inside a barn like cattle until their time comes, and Marie revealed Phillip’s location to Bauerin, because she trusted Bauerin as a new friend. Big mistake. Phillip is sitting out in the open at the railroad tunnel for an easy capture, and Phillip suffers a brutal death at the farm. Tom is a prisoner in the barn, and Leonie is still alive, but she’s trapped with Marie at the farm.

Tom’s fate is sealed as the next meal, but Bauerin has different plans for Marie and Leonie. Bauerin wants Marie as a wife for Micha in a forced marriage, and Bauerin has plans to groom Leonie as the next bride for Flori (a young boy at the farm). Marie tries to escape after she refuses the offer and a meal of people at the dinner table, but Bauerin’s group catches her before she can reach the door.

After Phillip’s murder, Marie takes a second shot an escape, and she succeeds. Marie rescues Tom and the other prisoners inside the barn. Tom and Marie escape the farm during a nasty chase, and Marie catches Bauerin, Micha, and Leonie in the woods.

A disappointed and disgusted Bauerin scolds Marie during a confrontation, and she promises Leonie will be the next bride for Micha. An infuriated Marie stabs Bauerin in the stomach. Bauerin dies from the stab wound, with a grieving Micha holding her corpse. Marie takes advantage of the situation. Marie frees Leonie, and together, they join Tom. To end the movie, Tom, Marie, and Leonie continue their journey towards the mountains to search for safe shelter and more water.

The finale is full of suspense and a few good surprises. I thought Phillip would make it to the end, but Tom was the sole survivor for the men. And Micha ignoring Marie was strange. I expected a fierce fight to the death from a vengeful Micha, but he didn’t care about Marie or Leonie anymore. Mourning his mother’s death was the top priority, and it’s as simple as that.

I enjoyed the finale, but it’s hard to ignore Marie’s stupid decision. You’re living in a post-apocalyptic world, where people are literally waiting to stab you in the back for a small cup of water, and you trust this strange woman you just met with Phillip’s location? Seriously? Marie is solely responsible for Phillip’s death, because Bauerin didn’t know anything about Phillip.

Director Tom Fehlbaum deserves credit for creating Hell’s eerie and desolate atmosphere. Rotting animal carcasses, ominous empty buildings, and the unnerving sound of sand crackling in the wind. You never know what’s going to pop out from around the corner during the glaring daytime scenes, and you can say the same thing about silent attackers lurking in the shadows during twilight hours and nighttime scenes.

Although, Hell relies on a handful of redundant post-apocalyptic clichés. The main group (Marie, Leonie, Tom, Phillip) of protagonists are lured into a trap, because they’re looking for supplies. One member of the group (Leonie) is kidnapped by the main group of antagonists. Usually, the main group of bad guys are a pack of deranged nutcases, or they’re cannibals. One brave survivor (Marie) decides to fight the odds, and they attempt a daring and seemingly impossible rescue mission to save the fallen comrade. Unfortunately, Hell sticks to the predictable formula step by step for the most part.

Still, Hell is an enjoyable post-apocalyptic film. Yeah, Hell won’t set the bar for post-apocalyptic films, but Fehlbaum deserves credit for sporadic moments of suspense and tension, and the tense nail-biting finale is fun to watch. Plus, Hell features a rock solid cast overall, the one hour and twenty-six minutes runtime is a breeze, and Hell never falls into a tedious slump during the smooth ride to the end.

Rating: 7/10

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