Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Movie Review: "Hell's Ground" (2007)

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Movie"Hell's Ground"
Director: Omar Khan
Year: 2007
Rating: UR
Running Time: 1 hour, 17 minutes

A group of teenagers lie to their parents so they can see the hardest rock group in Pakistan. On the way to the concert, they get diverted by some protesters to the back roads. They stop at a small chai tea stand to buy snacks. The creepy old man running the stand warns the teens that they are on the road to hell. As they try to take a short cut for lost time, it turns out he was right as the group is first attacked by flesh-eating mutant zombie creatures, and later by a psychopathic killer in a burqa. 

Dubbed "the first Pakistani gore film," "Hell's Ground" certainly lives up to the gore part of that statement. In the opening scene, someone gets beaten to death with a shovel, so you know you're in for an interesting and gruesome ride. Blood spurts everywhere pretty consistently and guts are being pulled out and eaten rather frequently. This, combined with the sounds of squishing, snapping, and cracking makes for a ghoulish viewing experience, one I actually had to turn away from a couple of times.

Beyond the excessive gore, this is B-horror film in every sense of the word. Once again, from the opening credits, you know this is going to be a low budget film that was shot with a relatively inexpensive camera on low quality film stock. There is also pretty bad lighting throughout the movie, and some scenes go from unnecessarily dark and shadowy to excessively bright in an instant. Another interesting aspect of the film is that it switches between the Urdu and English languages quite frequently, as if it was either targeted Americans in the first place, or commonplace to speak both depending on who you're addressing (in Pakistan). The plot is more of a rough outline of the writer's most recent brainstorming session than an actual story. The filmmakers seem to get a bunch of ideas that they thought would be cool on film and said, "screw it, let's shoot this!" The perfect example if the use of multiple villains throughout its short run time. From mutant zombies to a killer family, there is seemingly no transition and also no reason for there to be a change in antagonist. This also lends to its unintentional humor, though, so it worked out for them in the end. The film follows pretty much every horror cliche in the book that could be titled "Horror Cliches for Dummies" (trademarked by us if it doesn't already exist). Here are just a few of these said cliches: 1) the protagonists are a group of teenagers on a road trip; 2) they leave the main highway for a more rural path; 3) they stop at a creepy roadside eatery where they receive a warning from the old and equally creepy proprietor; 4) they take a shortcut; 5) they pick up a crazy stranger; 6) they run out of gas and/or have car trouble; and 7) they constantly leave their safe group of friends and go off on their own. Just a few short movies ago, we watched a film with this exact same setup called "House of 1000 Corpses," and there are many, many more just like this out there. You don't even have to look that hard to find another title with this premise.

Despite this lack of plot, the unintentional comedy and graphic, grotesque violence help to make this a seriously entertaining film, one we didn't expect to be that good based on reviews and simple Google searches for related pictures. It's interesting to see what a Pakistani horror film looks like on tape and how similar it is to the "Americanized" idea of the horror genre as a whole.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 5.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 100%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching"The Changeling"

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