Hell (2011) – The Post-Apocalyptic Roundup!
August 29, 2015
Hell is a German-Swiss post-apocalyptic/horror film (I watched it with English subtitles on Netflix). Released in 2011, starring Hannah Herzsprung, and the directorial debut of Tim Fehlbaum. My synopsis: “In a sun-scorched post-apocalyptic landscape, three travelers (Marie, Leonie, and Philip) head for the mountains based on rumors of water. Bad stuff goes down.”
The Apocalypse Scenario:
Hellish heat. In the near future, solar flares have wreaked havoc with Earth’s atmosphere and increased the planet’s temperature by 10°C (or 18°F). The sun pummels the terrain, scorching all plant and animal life. There are rumors that it still rains “above the treeline” but this notion is dismissed as wishful thinking. The survivors avoid walking during the daylight and cover their skin as if trekking across the Sahara desert. Car windows are decorated with newspaper, cardboard and duct tape in an effort to keep the sunlight out. One character has severe burns on his arm from only two hours of sun exposure.
What They’ve Run Out Of:
Water and Sunscreen. (Seriously, sunscreen must be worth a fortune because no-one ever puts it on.) Our trio scavenges for pretty much everything; water and food are the obvious necessities. The charred landscape is a constant reminder of the Earth’s demise, intensifying the need for food. Marie and Leonie take apart gas-station radiators and toilets in search of water. As our group traverses deeper into the mountains, creating a sustainable source of nourishment becomes central to the plot.
What this Film Adds to the Post-Apocalyptic Genre:
The question of “what will you compromise to survive” is nothing new to the post-apocalyptic genre. My guess is that someone read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and decided to make an entire film exploring the farmhouse scene. (You know the one.) With that said, Hell is a well-made film and the idea of compromise takes a front-seat.
Its implied that Marie and Philip have a sexual relationship that’s somewhat reluctant on Marie’s part. When Leonie questions her older sister about it, Marie replies “we help each other.” When the inevitable stuff goes down, characters are forced to make decisions between their own survival and rescuing part of their group. Finally, we see what lengths a community will resort to in order to survive. The most disturbing part is how these compromises are accepted as part of normal life. The film asks the audience (without words) “What would you do to survive hell on earth?” And, “if the highest ethic isn’t survival, what is it?”
3 out of 5 Zipped Lips.
Post-apocalyptic films are becoming a dime of dozen, and I’m pleased to say that this is one of the better ones. Hell forgoes depicting destruction on a grand scale, preferring to focus on a trio traversing the German countryside in their little red car. The result is intimate, intense, and terrifying. Fehlbaum’s attention to detail, like Philip burning his fingers when he reaches for a sun soaked gas cap, gives the film a human touch of believability and familiarity. We’ve all experienced the intense heat of summer, and here we’re given a picture of a world that’s this way all the time. Even though its lower budget, the camerawork and scenery are all beautiful and terrifying to behold. Fehlbaum is a talented director and I’m looking forward to what he does in the future.
Overall, Hell is a solid but fairly derivative film. The Road, 28 Days Later, and The Walking Dead’s fifth season have all covered these ideas before. If you loved The Road and are looking for something intense, then give Hell a watch on Netflix. If you’re looking for something a little more unique, then skip it in favor of Mad Max or Walking Dead.
What do you think, apocalypse fans? – Don’t forget to check out the rest of our movies in the Post-Apocalyptic Movie Roundup!