Wednesday, October 08, 2014
30 Days of Nightmares #8: HELL (2012)
The Story: Life on a super-heated planet Earth gets even more cutthroat.
Expectations: THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE meets THE ROAD.
Reaction: Years ago I read an essay about THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE that made me acutely aware of the nature symbolism of Hooper's film. It begins with a long shot of a corpse baking in the sun, then proceeds to footage of solar flares. The radio reports on mass murder and excessive heat. One of the characters says that the stars are misaligned. After a firsthand encounter with a psychopath--the product of a world that has replaced man with machines--the would-be heroes try to escape into a desert oasis... only to find that the oasis has completely dried up. In short, this is a portrait of a world gone mad.
HELL charts similar territory. It begins with a small family of strangers on the road, trying to escape the punishing heat (we're told that two hours of sun exposure will cause severe blistering) and the even more punishing competition for diminished resources. The characters actually have to black out their car windows, like the vampires in NEAR DARK, in order to avoid extreme sunburn... and the scarcity of water makes life a brutal game of survival of the fittest. (If that doesn't make you nervous about global warming, what will??) This bleak vision of the future--2016, we're told--gets even bleaker when we see what the long-term plan for survival looks like. Hint: What did the kids in TEXAS CHAIN SAW find after that dried-up oasis? HELL isn't particularly original, but it's well-made variation on the classic apocalyptic horror movie.
Most Nightmare-Worthy Moment: You can actually feel the heat in this movie. For someone who lives in a desert city that's suffering a major long-term drought, that's pretty unnerving. I dare you to watch it without a bottle of water by your side.
Labels: 30 Days of Nightmares