If anything else, Gehenna: Where Death Lives is education; and I mean that in the literal sense. Before I even started watching this upcoming release from Uncork’d Entertainment, I had to Google the definition of ‘gehenna.’ Turns out it means, ‘a cursed place,’ which is fitting considering this movie’s content. I also Googled the location of Saipan, which I assumed to be in South America, but in actually it’s located east of Asia next to Guam. When you throw in little World War 2 blurbs, yeah, Gehenna: Where Death Lives is smart as Hell and probably one of the best films of the year in terms of background story. Written by Hiroshi Katagiri, Nathan Long and Brad Palmer, Gehenna: Where Death Lives follows a small group of coworkers looking for a scenic spot to build their company’s next resort. Upon further investigating the property, they discover a hidden WW2 bunker that begs to be explored. Once inside, the secrets of the bunker come to life – both physically and mentally – and a shocking, centuries old curse comes back to haunt the coworkers. Screw overtime, they’ll just want more time to make it out alive. Doug Jones (The Shape of Water), Lance Henriksen (Aliens, Pumpkinhead), Eva Swan, Simon Phillips, Justin Gordon, Patrick Gorman, Sean Sprawling and Katherine Taylor star in a slow-burning horror film with incredible special effects.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise when considering Gehenna: Where Death Lives is the feature length directorial debut of Hiroshi Katagiri, the mastermind working visual effects in Hollywood hits including Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark and Jurassic Park III. Hiroshi knows a thing or two about working behind-the-scenes, and that translated over well to his big debut as a director. I mean, this motion picture is literally error free. I invite you to watch it and look for a production error. You won’t find one, so props to the entire crew who worked under Katagiri’s guidance and delivered a worthwhile movie. Aside from the special effects, Gehenna: Where Death Lives soars above the rest due to its locations. The exterior scenes are breathtaking, and the interior scenes inside the bunker were so good, so professional that I wondered if they were real, centuries old ruins and bunkers. I was blown away with that, too. Gehenna: Where Death Lives is a scarier mix of The Keep and The Ruins, boasted by A-list actors and splendid acting across the board. Colonization and curses never looked and sounded as good as they do in Gehenna: Where Death Lives!
At the same time, I do have to say that Gehenna: Where Death Lives lacks a little bit of ‘oomph.’ It certainly has its scary movies, and its moments of claustrophobia and suspense, but it also has a lot of slow moments. Progression and development is good. Too much of that is bad. I understand that not ever scene and every shot is going to be FLASH! BANG!, but when this one’s slow… It’s SLOW. I’m guilty of hitting the fast forward button a few times, and I feel as if this one’s only going to appeal to a certain demographic in the horror community. Obviously, history fans who can cross over into horror will enjoy this. Supernatural horror fans will REALLY love this. And, fans who enjoy story over all-out gore will enjoy this. Outside of those three groups, this may not be the right title for you. Luckily, Gehenna: Where Death Lives is coming to select theaters and digital HD on May 4, 2018 courtesy of Uncork’d Entertainment. I highly encourage checking out the trailer below and deciding if this is something you’d like to see. Again, it’s perfectly produced, packed with cinematic quality, and it contains above average acting and special effects. The intensity of the story is just a little on the slow side. And it had a scene of twinks sacrificing a guy. So, there’s that. Final Score: 6.75 out of 10.