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!
October 4, 2010
Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010) – In 3D – Review by Isaac
“My name is Alice. I worked for the Umbrella Corporation. Five years ago, the T-Virus escaped, and everybody died. Trouble was… they didn’t stay dead.”
Will you enjoy Resident Evil: Afterlife in 3D? – That depends. How do you feel about character development? What about intentional dialog? Or realistic fight scenes? And what about physics, are you really set on that? Because if you expect any of the above, you probably won’t dig what Afterlife has to offer.
Here’s what Resident Evil: Afterlife is about:
Oh, and sometimes Ali Larter.
But seriously, despite hating the first three Resident Evil films (read my article,) I really enjoyed Afterlife. Perhaps I gave up on the idea that these will be good movies and just enjoyed the slow-motion in 3D. Which is why Paul W.S. Anderson is able to succeed on the big screen: it’s all about the 3D glasses. They won’t make poorly written characters and storyline three dimensional, but all the shooting in slow motion is really cool. My movie-going buddy commented that this was his best 3D experience (winning out over Avatar and Clash of the Titans). The presence of 3D sews together the mismatch pieces of this ‘style-over-substance’ action flick.
Plot Synopsis: Genetically enhanced Alice leads her army of clones to destroy Umbrella’s headquarters in Tokyo. The mission is successful but Alice barely escapes, injected with a T-virus antidote. Alone and powerless, Alice joins a group of survivors who must escape to Arcadia, the mysterious safe-haven free of infection.
It’s good to see a franchise start getting things right. The film opens with an incredibly juvenile, Matrix inspired, over-the-top action scene featuring Alice’s clone army assaulting a secret Umbrella base. We’re treated to Alice tearing through hordes of SWAT teams with every cliché in the book. The base is destroyed, along with her clones, and Alice loses her superpowers. This explosive move wraps up the silliness created by the second and third RE films, making Alice a normal human being again. Now that she’s powerless, Alice becomes likeable again. There’s a welcome return of danger and risk throughout the film.
Writer/Director Paul W.S. Anderson’s second great move is using some source material. I bet he played Resident Evil 5 and thought “woah! I’d better make another movie!” The zombies (inexplicably) have mutated into the “Los Plagas” infected types featured in Resident Evil 4 and 5. The Executioner makes an appearance and his fight is one of the film’s highlights. Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts) is introduced as the main villain, a point I was initially excited about because Wesker is one of my favorite villains ever, but his treatment here is weak. They actually copy an entire fight-scene from Resident Evil 5 move by move, (I guess if it ain’t broke, why fix it?) The end result is uninspired. There’s a common thread among zombie-plots, especially Resident Evil, that the initial developer/spreader of the zombie virus is more evil and depraved than the flesh-eating zombies themselves. Afterlife decides to make this dichotomy literal, depicting Wesker as a cannibal who must eat living flesh in order to control his powers. And of course, he has to ingest Alice to survive (geez, talk about Mary-Sue tropes!)
When Alice searches for Arcadia, she encounters a group of survivors holding up in a prison (The Walking Dead, anyone?) The cast is paper-thin for the most part; even famous videogame character Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller) has little plot exposition. (Perhaps a bit of fan-service here, introducing Prison Break’s main character in a prison cell?) In fact, a number of glaring questions surrounding Chris and Claire Redfield’s characters are never answered before the credits roll.
I love character development in horror movies. More specifically, I love their attempts at character development. A single statement like “I was on the High School swim team” not only caps their character depth, but justifies their ability to navigate a flooded, zombie infested barracks with nothing more than a flashlight. Afterlife is par for the course here, featuring raspy voices and dual wielding pistols for all the “cool” characters and thin, red-shirt stereotypes making up the supporting cast. I wish I was kidding about the raspy voices. I was beginning to wonder if lead actress Milla Jovovich had a serious throat infection all through the filming of Afterlife. Her speech was really low and raspy, like halfway between chain-smoker and Christian Bale’s Batman voice. The introduction of Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) and Chris Redfield (Miller) revealed that either A: the raspy voice technique was supposed to make the main characters edgy and ‘badass’, or B: the throat infection had spread throughout the leads. Milla Jovovich and Ali Larter did their best to counteract this illness with thick eyeliner and lipstick (which is apparently abundant in the post-apocalypse) but it didn’t help much. But at least Alice stayed properly clothed this time!
I haven’t decided if Paul W.S. Anderson is incapable of writing a good ending, or if he has some sort of psychotic condition that forces him to write only cliffhangers. Afterlife sets itself up for a sequel trilogy in one of the most contrived ways possible. But considering how much I enjoyed this installment, I’m ready to see what he comes up with next.