Sunday, March 3, 2013

Bechtloff Movie Night: Escape from Hell (2000)

After checking out crap like Fireproof, Courageous, and Flywheel, I've sorta been on a mini mission to find a non sucky Christian movie. When I heard about Escape from Hell I figured it was worth a look. Escape from Hell is a Christian movie about a Doctor investigating near death experiences. He conducts an experiment in which he gives himself a lethal drug cocktail with the intent of having his colleagues revive him so he can experience a near death experience first hand. He ends up going to Hell and when he's revived a demon has followed him back and is chasing him. He runs off, stealing an ambulance and seeks shelter in a nearby church. The janitor in the church tries to throw him out so the Doctor tells his story, including days worth of back story and irrelevant details. When the demon shows up (sorta) the janitor prays it away and then tells the Doctor that the only way he can be safe from it permanently is to put his faith in Jesus.

The premise of this movie sounded interesting, so I was curious to see how they would inevitably cock it up. I think the biggest problem with this is, for a movie designed to scare people into faith in Jesus, it sure isn't even remotely scary. When the demon shows up it looks like a cross between the Venom Symbiote and the shadow demons from the movie Ghost.
I get that they were working with a limited effects budget, and didn't want to gore things up, but you don't need to do that to be scary. For a movie about Hell this didn't have even one bit of creepy or disturbing imagery. Compare that to say, Exorcism of Emily Rose, one of the few PG-13 horror movies that got a rise out of me. That movie was full of really creepy things. Frankly the makers of this movie could have benefited from watching just about any exorcism movie of the last couple of decades

Also, despite a measly 78 minute run time, this movie manages to waste an exorbitant amount of time on inconsequential bullshit. The movie starts with our Doctor waking up from him near death experience, heading to the Church, and then telling the janitor what lead him to this point in flashback. And it just drags on so much. Also, even putting aside how bad the CGI was (I know this no doubt had a limited budget, so that's understandable) the designs for both Heaven and especially Hell were incredibly unimaginative. When the Doctor has his near death experience he first ends up in Heaven before he is cast down to Hell. Heaven looked like a damn Lisa Frank painting.
And Hell was practically cartoonish it was so predictable. I mean, again I get the effect budget was low, but that's no excuse for a complete lack of creativity. Still, to be fair, it didn't look any worse than the Hell scenes in Spawn.
So what we had here was a concept that certainly had potential, but it suffers from poor pacing, unimaginative designs, and above all failing to do the thing it was designed to do, scare the Hell outta people.

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