HERE COMES HELL

The title tells you everything you need to know.

Some twists on that generic, revelry in what is taken all too literally and a reliable traffic jam of demon spawn awaiting their time to shine gives us and the dinner guests with whom we spend our evening a lot to contend with.

Presented in black and white, Here Comes Hell launches into action with a well-suited gentleman cautioning the faint of heart of that foreboding to come. Soon moving on from what should encourage absolutely no one to leave the theatre, we of course find ourselves on a train, on the way to a haunted house, where someone called Ichabod used to live, where our friends plan to willingly spend the night; far away from emergency services and anyone who actually knows what to do at the sight of blood.

Characters soon regale us with ghost stories amid a heightened, assuredly self-aware milieu which leans as heavily into it’s comedy as sparing horror. The schlocky proceedings, in case you are of the faint of heart, shouldn’t be taken any more seriously than our first signs of trouble are received by those most disdainful among the high society types populating what in any other circumstances would have been a very nice dinner.

Here Comes Hell is at its best when the camerawork gets creative; the fast-moving point of view shots from the resident evil’s perspective being the stand out. Embellishing itself with classic filmic touches, notably among them a gentleman falling down a set of stairs as the camera moves in ala Psycho, visually the whole thing is less striking on the perennial occasions when the lens is at a remove from our players, bringing into focus sets never so endearing as the effects nor make-up design.

Margaret Clunie fares best among the small cast; her removed, caustic approach to the intended séance and its repercussions proving hilarious, as does one excellent visual gag involving the discharge of a firearm toward a door. Here Comes Hell emerges most memorable at these junctures when the humour is not foreshadowed by the reflexive tone which relies heavily on bottle horror traditions. Tom Bailey likewise shines with the only two lines of dialogue that permit him to perform at his driest and absent telegraphed theatrics, pertaining to his advocacy of a séance and a hark back to a dinner accident much earlier in the night.

Timothy Renouf enjoys one great scene where he embodies a, well, another persona. The night’s other mainstays, never predilecting so heavily toward the period setting, nor the clearly exaggerated environment in which we’ve all found ourselves, don’t come off nearly so well.

The not uninteresting score renders itself overused in underlining moments both important and inconsequential to the point of complacency; and while yes this is all tongue in cheek horror no that’s how you hold a gun, or a sword, or a burning candle dripping with wax.

With Maureen Bennett providing some highlights as the action, at its most cracking, veers into distinctly less predictable territory, Here Comes Hell has it’s missteps though never so many as its characters whose actions, if predictably illogical, do lead to some classically horrific entertainment.

Here Comes Hell screens as part of the Sydney Film Festival on Saturday 8 June at 9PM at Event Cinemas George Street and Tuesday 11 June at 8:30PM at Dendy Cinemas Newtown

on Festevez