Josh Wilding Reviews: HELL

Josh Wilding Reviews: HELL

Released on Blu-ray and DVD on July 2nd, we've been sent an early review copy of Hell; a German post-apocalyptic survival thriller produced by Roland Emmerich (Independence Day) which tells the story of two sisters who must survive both the scorched Earth and a deadly ambush.


Hell's executive producer Roland Emmerich may be behind such big budget post apocalyptic blockbusters as 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow, but this film tells a far more personal story and doesn't require millions of dollars of visual effects to do so. Instead, director and writer Tim Fehlbaum (he shares a screenplay credit with Oliver Kahl and Thomas Wöb) grounds the story firmly in reality, focusing only on two sisters, the dubious man they travel with and another male straggler they pick up along the way. The specifics of how and why the temperature of the world has risen and left it a barren wasteland are irrelevant and there's no tedious subplot here about scientists trying to figure out how to miraculously stop the disaster (although a newspaper which mentions solar flares may tell us all we really need to know). As the group head towards the mountains in search of water, we're convincingly shown just how barren and uninhabitable the heat has become as it turns the countryside into an almost desert like environment.

However, it is the story and relationship between Marie (Hannah Herzsprung) and Leonie (Lisa Vicari) which really drives the plot forward and both actresses are incredibly talented. Herzsprung in particular really impresses, and this is a leading role which should deservedly get her some Hollywood attention. Phillip (Lars Eidinger) is a character who it's a little hard to root for - his relationship with Marie is a worrying one - but his performance is layered enough that he never becomes the one dimensional cliché seen in so many other movies. Tom (Stipe Erceg) joins the trio (who have clearly been travelling together for some time) and serves as a useful way of also giving us something of an outside perspective, despite events later taking place almost primarily from Marie's point of view. With some great supporting performances from the likes of Angela Winkler (Bäurin) this is a solid cast with not a single weak link to speak of.

Upping the brightness of the sun is an effective way of portraying its power, while another scene serves as a shocking example of the damage it is capable of. With a title like Hell, it would be easy to automatically assume that the foursome end up facing off against mutants or something equally as predictable and silly, but the threat turns out to be an altogether more human one. When Leonie is kidnapped by what appears to be a group of bandits, the others set out to get her back. As Marie sits down for a meal with a family she comes across while searching for her sister, this ultimately makes for far more uncomfortable viewing than any blood and gore which could have been thrown at us. There are plenty of genuine thrills and edge of your seat tension throughout. Hell could have arguably benefited from Fehlbaum having a little more money to spend, but the low budget never causes too much of a problem as dodgy special effects are thankfully absent. This is a powerful film, and while the end wraps up perhaps a little too quickly, it's hard to find any other faults. It may not tell the most original of stories, but this ranks as one of the best post apocalyptic tales out there.

Compelling, well-acted and thrilling throughout, this is a must-see. If you liked The Road, then you will love Hell.








It was once the source of life, light and warmth. But now the sun has turned the entire world into a baked and barren wasteland. Forests are scorched. Animal carcasses line the roads. Even the nights are dazzlingly bright. Maria, her little sister Leonie and Phillip are heading for the mountains in a car with tinted glass. Rumor has it water can still be found there. It is a hazardous trip to nowhere. Along the way, they run into Tom. He turns out to be a first-rate mechanic and becomes indispensible. But can they trust him? The tension grows. As if things weren't bad enough, they are lured into an ambush and their real battle for survival begins...


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