Hellmouth (2014) – John Geddes

 

Also available from Anchor Bay today is this interesting tale from the writer of Pontypool, Tony Burgess and director John Geddes. This one is going to be a fairly polarizing film, you’re either going to like it or hate it, and it all depends on your mind-set going into it. There is mythology at work here, woven into the tapestry of the film as familiar images and tales are played out in a new way, and while the opening credits and the stylized black and white (with splashes of colour) are reminiscent of 50s era horror films and Sin City, I found that it felt more like an actualized version of a tale from Weird or Eerie Comics. This is a tale that embraces its bizarre nature, and doesn’t walk with it, it runs, and you can either keep pace with it, or try to figure out why you’re watching it.

Stephen McHattie (always a joy to see) is Charlie Baker, a grave keeper, who may be terminally ill, and just wants to spend the end of his days in sunny Florida.  He is forced to postpone his getaway however, when he is essentially blackmailed into taking one last job, replacing a missing grave keeper in a rather bizarre graveyard, Forks of Heaven.

Dejected, feeling rather sad and lonely, Charlie sets out for his new position, and encounters the lovely Fay (Siobhan Murphy) on the way. The two seem to share a connection, and a romantic spark is ignited between them, though it is obvious that Fay has a secret, of the dangerous kind. While Charlie is attempting to get settled in his new, bizarre surroundings, another story thread is introduced following Ari Millen’s Harry and Tony Burgess’ Tips, a pair of escaped prisoners, who decide to hide out in the cemetery. You know that is not going to end well, as reality and illusion begin to blur and the supernatural literally tears the ground out from under the characters feet.

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Charlie is told the troubling tale of the past grave keepers, including Julian Richings who has the most disturbing smiles on his face in his sequence, and soon finds himself embroiled in a mythic quest into the nether realms, to save not only himself but the soul of the woman he has grown to love.

It’s a strikingly designed and stylized film, some of the effects and designs don’t seem as fluid as they should be, and can be perceived as jarring, but it’s fascinating experiment on what can be done with digital effects, and how, if applied to a stylized film like this, could make for great horror. Like I said, this one came across more as a comic book tale from the scare books of the 50s than a nod to the films of the time, and if viewed that way, it’s actually enjoyable, if bizarre – and it’s always fun to watch McHattie at work, and throwing Millen, Richings and Murphy in there is just an added bonus!

Hellmouth is available today from Anchor Bay.

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