Gehenna: Where Death Lives (2016)

Director: Hiroshi Katagiri
Starring: Eva Swan, Sean Sprawling, Katherine Taylor, Simon Philips, Doug Jones, Lance Henriksen. USA/ Japan. 1h 45m

Katagiri’s feature length debut opens up with an embellished biblical quote from Matthew 18:9, but instead of casting your eye into hell fire, the word is changed for Gehenna, this cuts away for a group of natives performing a ritual involved cutting off a mans face and walling him up in a cave.
After the bloodshed, the film cuts to a pristine office, where Morgan (Henriksen) speaks with his daughter about checking out a new spot in Saipan, the family business is tied with tourism and they have acquired a new piece of land which Paulina (Swan) is determined to check out as she’s planning on taking over the family business soon, this is all you’ll see of Henriksen so don’t get your hopes up Henny fans.

On arriving on the island she promptly checks into her hotel, noticing that the locals are up in arms about their sacred land being sold off and casting off all local traditions and superstitions she meets up with her “team” and start scouting around the island until they stumble upon a doorway to an underground bunker.

While investigating they encounter a “creepy old man” who warns them to leave or be killed, but they kill him, then try to leave finding themselves trapped inside the bunker, along with lots of ghosts from their past and lots of internal guilt and attrition. The deeper they venture into the tunnels the more violent the ghosts seem to get, Paulina encounters her dead son, who died in an pool accident, still dripping and gory he tried to strangle his mother. But not all of the characters down in the bunker are dead, there are some left over Japanese military who are only now working out how to get out of the bunker, but suicide isn’t for everyone.

With the two biggest names having the two smallest parts, the rest of the film relies on C list actors who never seem to really illustrate the fear that they should. There are some tense moments, particularly the encounters with the creepy old man and a angry girl with a flexible neck. But without a monster on screen the acting gets lazy.

Katagiri’s expertise is really with special effects and honorably be used all traditional methods instead of copping out with cgi (apart from one scene) but the glue that holds the effects together, ie the rear of the film is pretty lame and for the long running time there just isn’t enough to keep the attention alive. The film gets very repetitive and there’s a huge lack of action.

Doug Jones plays a perfect creepy guy, and the idea seems to start off well, but turns into Dead Mine (2012) half way through and ends up like any other bunker style movie, without adding in anything all that new or profound it just flounders, it relies on too many cliches and is littered with so much unnecessary detail it becomes tedious instead of getting scary which is a shame from the strong start but it is what it is, a lackluster horror that isn’t all that scary and with no clear story.

Rating  3/10

R: Dead Mine (2012)
L: Bunker Movies
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