Isn’t there any sort of law, especially in this day of remakes, against titling your horror movie with the same name as another, well known and beloved horror movie? The Gates Of Hell is NOT a remake of Lucio Fulci’s classic, and in fact isn’t even a zombie movie, but there is already confusion on the IMDb about that, and several attendees of the Screamfest film festival assumed it was either a revival screening or a remake of the earlier film. Hey everyone, I’m writing a movie about cannibalistic ghosts in the snowy landscapes of Minnesota. It’s called Nightmare On Elm St.
Anyway, instead of zombies, our villain is a mutant freak from the Victor Crowley/Antropophagus school of terror, and our heroes are, *sigh*, a group of eager filmmakers looking to make a documentary about the scary shenanigans that supposedly occurred in “Creepy Victorian mansion in the middle of nowhere #457974”. And of course, the director of the movie in the movie wants to ensure his “cast” gets scared enough to sell the film, so he hires a buddy to put on a rubber mask and fuck with them. But hilariously, the guy never even gets around to that, he’s pretty much the first to die.
To its credit, the movie doesn’t waste too much time getting going, we have a body count of five before the 60 minute mark. But director Kelly Dolen and co-writer Justin Dix might go TOO fast, as there are only 6 in the group, so the final half hour is a snoozefest, because there’s only one guy left, and if he’s dead, the rest of the movie would be kind of sans, er, things. Not sure why Dolen/Dix chose to structure it this way, but it’s a bit odd. A pretty nice twist is thrown in for good measure, and that helps a bit, but it’s still a script that needed some spreading out.
And no one cares about slasher victims being original, but can PLEASE give the “horror movie filmmakers” idea a rest? Not only am I sick of seeing kids with cameras (thank CHRIST this isn’t a found footage movie; in fact I don’t think more than one minute of the film is shown from a consumer camera’s POV), but it also leads to terribly outdated Scream style humor. When a trapdoor is discovered, someone mentions that it’s like Evil Dead, and the response is “We’re not in a horror movie.” Christ. I almost threw my popcorn at the screen (but I was hungry so I didn’t want to waste any).
Needless to say, once folks start dying, the meta-humor is dropped entirely, and some minor black humor takes its place. There’s a terrific bit where a guy is chained up on the fence that the others need to get through in order to escape, and one of them has to reach INTO the hole in the dead guy’s torso to pull the lock out from behind his corpse. Awesome. Also, I like that they need to drive their truck through the fence, they fail. The car gets totaled; the fence stays intact. Hahaha, suckers.
So while the script is pretty by the numbers, it does have its moments, and the film is at least competently made. It never feels like anything but the result of some guys with money looking to make more money by slapping together a horror movie, but it’s hardly the worst example of the type. I wouldn’t recommend it, but I wouldn’t try to sway someone from watching it either. Your call.