Alrighty, so Uncork’d Entertainment has a new independent horror film out called Gehenna: Where Death Lives. Geheena came out May 4th (2018) and did a run in theaters across the U.S., but in case you missed your chance to see it, have no fear! Gehenna: Where Death Lives was also released on VOD (video on demand) as well. Now, you may not recognize the director’s name, Hiroshi Katagiri, but you’ve seen some of his work. Katagiri has done the visual effects on movies like Pacific Rim (2013), Jurassic Park 3 (2001), Aliens vs Predator: Requiem (2007), The Hunger Games (2012) and War of the Worlds (2005). However, this time around Katagiri is doing things a bit differently. Instead of showing off his effects skills, Katagiri is giving directing a shot and Gehenna: Where Death Lives marks his directorial debut.
Gehenna: Where Death Lives is a horror/mystery/thriller with a hundred and five minutes run time. It’s rated NR (not rated) but has language and violence. It was directed by Hiroshi Katagiri and written by Nathan Long, Brad Palmer & Hiroshi Katagiri. Five individuals are checking out an area that’s being looked at for a possible land deal for a five-star resort. As they are walking around, they stumble across an old WW II bunker. Even though it’s well known that the area they’re in is considered cursed by the locals. It’s decided that the group should check out the bunker, so they go in and start looking around. Because that’s worked out so well for so many other people in this situation. Once the group starts to make their way through the maze of the bunker, that’s when everything starts to go south. Now they must figure out how to escape not only the bunker but the curse as well.
I really thought the story was cool. Yeah, it starts off basic with the “have a group go someplace no normal person would”, but it quickly kicks that basic vibe and cranks up the mystery/thriller part of the story to hook you. Now, I dug the story, but as things went on I started to get a bit confused about how the curse worked. I thought it was one of those you’re trapped until someone takes your place, but that’s not how things ended up. So, I’m not sure if I missed some important dialog that explained things, but I don’t think I did. Either way, I dug the ending. Now, you’ve got a group of people running around in a bunker trying to get out, but to help keep things active in the story, the curse makes you see you’re worst sin. So, now you have scared people that fight amongst themselves and are dealing with these nightmares visions. Yeah, there’s a lot going on during the story, but there’s not a lot of scary stuff coming at you. You’ll get creeped out by the visions, but other than that Gehenna isn’t really a scary movie.
So, the intro shows us a poor guy that is caught in a bad situation and we watch as the locals hand out punishment for his wrongdoings. Then things slow down a bit as we fast forward in time and get introduced to the cast of characters that’ll walk us through the movie. Now, once we get to the bunker things start to take off again, but it’s at kind of a slow pace. They give us backstories on the characters so we can attach to them, but there wasn’t really enough there to get the job done.
Some of the cast is Eva Swan (Alien Inhabitant), Justin Gordon (Oculus), Matthew Edward Hegstrom (Gehenna: Where Death Lives), Sean Sprawling (Wolf Mother), Simon Phillips (Once Upon a Time at Christmas), Doug Jones (The Shape of Water) and Lance Henriksen (Aliens). The cast wasn’t bad, but I had trouble attaching to them. Except for Phillips, but that’s because he plays a really good slimy a-hole and I wanted to see him get his. Pepe (Sprawling) was the comical relief of the movie. His parts were funny, but also you felt bad for him. He doesn’t want to be there, but because of his boss, Pepe is along for the ride. As always, it was cool to see Henriksen and Jones, but neither of them are really in the movie for more than a few minutes here and there. So that was a bit of a disappointment.
The special effects were done by Spectral Motion, who’s done work on the films Hellboy (2004) and Looper (2012). I don’t remember a lot about Looper, but Hellboy’s effects were killer looking and Gehenna’s are no different.
Summary : Overall, I enjoyed the movie and if you get a chance you should check it out.
It's rated NR (not rated) but has language and violence.