Gehenna: Where Death Lives is a classic horror movie. The effects and cinematography work really well, but the pace isn’t quite there.
I didn’t know what to expect from Gehenna: Where Death Lives and was very pleasantly surprised at the beginning.
This sounds like I’m about to really trash it, but that’s not the case at all. I just have to admit that I wasn’t crazy about the middle part. We keep going in circles, which I know represents the story, but it’s too much.
Certain parts of the story worked really well for me, but I needed something else during the middle part for it to work. If a good 15-20 minutes had been cut from the story, I would’ve been a lot happier with Gehenna: Where Death Lives.
The good and the bad
If there’s one thing I took from Gehenna: Where Death Lives, it’s that Sean Sprawling is absolutely brilliant. I really need to check out any future work he does. He has the best comedic timing and just pulls off elements of his story perfectly. From the fun bits to the hardcore horror elements. And he really is very instrumental in several of the more bloody stuff.
Other than that, Eva Swan was really good as Paulina. There are a few things about her character that seemed to not fit. Actually, it just felt like a man had written a female character without actually having talked to many women – or made any attempt to understand them. This might also explain why Eva Swan was the only woman in the entire movie.
Never a good thing in my book.
Lance Henriksen (Mom and Dad) and Doug Jones (The Shape of Water) are the names mentioned in relation to Gehenna: Where Death Lives. Don’t let that fool you. Or rather, don’t expect to see much of Lance Henriksen. It’s almost a cameo type deal.
Doug Jones has more scenes and, of course, he’s not exactly recognizable. However, he is as awesome as always. Even though his character isn’t a big – or very active – part of the movie.
However, as good as most of the cast were, someone stood out. And not in a good way. The role of Dave was played by Matthew Edward Hegstrom and it didn’t work for me at all. Everything seemed forced, overly dramatic or just off. This is the only credit of any kind on IMDb and I can only hope he’ll do better in the future. When you’re just waiting for someone to die, it’s just a sad situation.
Awesome effects and cinematography
Generally, the effects in Gehenna: Where Death Lives are all kinds of brilliant.
Then again, you wouldn’t expect any less from the feature film directing debut of Hiroshi Katagiri. In the past, Hiroshi Katagiri worked with special effects on productions like Pacific Rim, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and The Cave. The latter might be the most relevant in relation to Gehenna: Where Death Lives.
Also, the cinematography is really sublime for Gehenna: Where Death Lives. Especially the way light and dark is used. Most of the story takes place in a bunker or cave, which means we don’t have any daylight. Most of the creepy elements come from never knowing when something is lurking in the dark corners.
Potential for more
Having watched Gehenna: Where Death Lives, I definitely feel like Hiroshi Katagiri has something more to offer. He just needs a better script and tougher editing. This movie could very easily have gone at least one rating higher on our scale.
You should still check out this movie if you like the classic horror movies. The elements with urban legend-like features and being trapped in a cave worked really well. Also, Sean Sprawling made sure you never got really bored. If nothing else, you should watch this for Sean Sprawling and Doug Jones.
Gehenna: Where Death Lives is in theaters across the U.S and on digital from May 4, 2018.
As of December 10, 2018 Gehenna: Where Death Lives is also out on Netflix in the U.S. and Canada.
Director: Hiroshi Katagiri
Writer: Hiroshi Katagiri, Nathan Long, Brad Palmer
Cast: Doug Jones, Lance Henriksen, Eva Swan, Simon Phillips, Justin Gordon, Sean Sprawling, Matthew Edward Hegstrom
Gehenna fixes on five people who enter a hidden bunker from WW2, and realize it’s way more than a bunker. Some fates are MUCH worse than death.