Wednesday, 17 October 2012

13/10/2012: Hell (Bright) [2011]

One of my favourite genres of film is post-apocalyptic and I'm always keeping an eye out for new films in the genre. Sometime a couple weeks ago I read about a German movie titled Hell, which is German for Bright, a movie where, in 2016 the earth's temperature has risen by 10 °C. The movie follows the journey of a group of survivors who are trying to make their way across the wasteland in search of... well, anything.

When I say I like post-apocalyptic movies, I'm not referring to things like the zombie apocalypse, (which I love as well) but the more natural, fighting for survival, living in a barren wasteland type movies like The Road, A Boy and His Dog or Mad Max. It isn't the mechanism of the apocalypse or any supernatural aspect or zombies that really interests me, but the simple aspects of survival and scavenging resources and interacting with other survivors that is the most interesting part of any post-apocalyptic movie, and that is why I loved Hell, or at least the first half.

Hell opens with a frantic scramble for survival though the forest as what we categorize as a roving gang attack a couple of other travelers for their supplies. The dark, grim and raw opening scene starts to paint a stark image of a world with only one goal: Survive. After that, we switch to our protagonists, a pair of sisters, and a young man who are traveling by car. However, all of the windows are covered up, and yet still the sun streams through, creating a blinding glow through the cracks. When we first step out of the car we see the harsh impact of the earth's temperature increase and writer/director Tim Fehlbaum has created a believable and darkly bright apocalyptic reality.

I don't think there was a single gun in the entire movie. Luckily there is golf clubs.
The reality we see is well captured, with the few digital effects being used to create the bright contrast as the sun beats down on the desolate land. The overpowering sun has scorched the earth, killing off the animals, and vegetation, boiling off the water and leaving the land dry. Mankind as well has been nearly burned away, with the surviving humans traveling by night and seeking shelter during the day as the sun threatens to burn anyone caught out in it too long. Visually, the movie is amazing, with the filtering and contrast effects done extremely well so that they only add to the movie and never become distracting or detracting from the movie.

The world of survival in Hell is also done perfectly and believably as we watch our trio or survivors scavenge a gas station. Covered up against the sun, we see that they are not new to this harsh reality as they set upon the gas station and attached convenience store. Clearly already looted several times the survivors check every nook and cranny, scavenging fuel from the bottom of the underground tanks, gathering water from the radiators and negotiating with a fellow survivor who join their band as they set off again, heading north, where it is rumoured to still rain. While this isn't fast paced it is gritty and real and sucks you right into a world where day to day survival is a challenge.

At least it isn't snowing.
As the story continues on, our survivors encounter a number of other obstacles and eventually have a bad run in with a roving gang, who has been trapping travelers, taking their supplies and imprisoning them. While the first half of the story has played out strongly as a quest for survival, the plot starts to take a different turn for the rest of the movie, becoming more of a horror movie than a survival movie. While I would have preferred it not gone in that direction it is still well done, and the encounter with others goes about how you would expect, at least if you had expected the worst. In the end, the movie plays out it's more horror movie formula rather typically and unfortunately the movie doesn't go out with the same greatness that it started out with.

While the movie's story may not be it's strongest aspect, and it's second half might be a bit of a let down in comparison with the strong and amazing beginning, the movie is still satisfying and more than I ever expected from it. The atmosphere and visuals are nearly perfect, the world is well constructed and portrayed, and the performances are well done, particularly from Hannah Herzsprung, the movie's lead. If you are looking for a movie along the lines of The Road, which clearly had a very large influence on this, Hell is going to leave you maybe a little disappointed at what could have been but more than satisfied with what you got.

Now, the big things that are going to keep Hell from getting the recognition it deserves are of course it's low budget, and the fact it is a German movie. That means that word of it will only be spread largely through word of mouth, and that those who can't stand subtitles aren't even going to give it a second glance. Personally that is a crime, and you don't even need a translation for most of the dialogue, since it is easy to understand through context alone. So, if you are brave enough to seek out Hell, I strongly encourage you to check it out. It definitely gave me more than I was ever expecting.

Hell IMDb

No comments:

Post a Comment