I’ll admit that in my miserable life, I haven’t been to many haunted house attractions. Okay, I haven’t been to any. I guess that’s what happens when you grow up in a small Canadian town. It’s an unfortunate thing, but at the moment, I’m not about to lose sleep over it. Director Joe Raffa tries to bring home the experience (and then some) of a haunted house in 6 Degrees Of Hell, but you’ll have a time trying to get to it.
This is one time that I had to go back and actually re-read the premise for the film, as well as go back and re-watch the beginning of the film to see just what the hell is going on. “Uncle Jack’s Hotel of Horror” is an attraction in Northeast Pennsylvania, run by a guy named Uncle Jack, who’s constantly dealing with an asshole cop who thinks that he runs the town. Unfortunately, two of Jack’s friends, Chris and Kellen, unwittingly release an evil energy by transporting a collection of haunted objects owned by a local psychic to be used as props in the attraction. June is a local teen who also possesses the gift of being a psychic. It’s one that she doesn’t like to use, but when she does it seems to draw paranormal energy to her. Her gift also attracts the attention of a local TV ghost hunter, who confrontation with the evil energy years ago resulted in his sister’s death.
Oh, and as for Corey Feldman? He has little or nothing to do with the main plot. He just shows up as a paranormal investigator who listens to the entire story after the fact from another cop who was there to witness the whole thing.
Obviously, if the film involves possession of folks, you’d be in for fun times most of the time. Luckily, that’s the case here. The evil energy released from the props ends up doing a number on the hired actors at the hotel, turning them into real monsters, who in turn begin to kill unwitting guests, and everyone else thinks that it’s all part of the act! The film lets itself go and cranks out some truly creepy characters at this point, which if you’ve stuck around for the first hour, you’ll be glad that you did.
Yeah, that ‘sticking around for the first hour’ part? I’m not joking. 6 Degrees Of Hell‘s biggest problems lie in the fact that the film takes on way too much for an indie film. Instead of keeping things simple, we get a whack of stuff that’s just a chore to sit through. From the beginning of the film, we’re introduced to multiple plotlines that jump back and forth between the past and present time where Feldman’s busy smoking that eCig. For the next hour, this only serves to confuse and leaves a lot for the viewer to decipher in that time. Making things worse is the serious lack of character development during this time (an hour, remember?) that combined with some awkwardly acting by some of the younger cast, has you questioning why you should care about these characters at all. It’s all partially salvaged once we do get into the Hotel of Horror, but by then it’s just been a chore to get there.
Oh, and note to director Joe Raffa: having your asshole cop character making homophobic remarks doesn’t do well to really get the point across that he’s an asshole. It just makes the character offensive and your film look bad for having to resort to doing that in the first place.
Since this is a screener disc, the audio/video and extras aren’t final. Extras on the screener include a Making Of, footage from the film’s world premiere at The Sherman Theatre in Stroudsburg, PA, a blooper reel and an interview involving Corey Feldman, a walkthrough of the Hotel of Horror, a promo for the NEPA Ghost Detectives, a commercial for the Hotel of Horror, a photo gallery and a collection of teasers and trailers for 6 Degrees Of Hell and other Breaking Glass films.
It’s a shame that the Hotel of Horror ends up being the only noteworthy aspect of 6 Degrees Of Hell, since everything else leading up to the moment once we do get into the attraction is so poor. It’s a payoff that needed to happen, and when it did happen, you’re thankful that it did. But when you look back at the rest of the film, you end up wishing that the care and effort put forth in the climax had been carried over into the events leading up to it. Or, you just end up seeing a film that despite an excellent climax, is still lacking and not worth much of your time.
I’m leaning towards the latter.