Mr. Hell

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“Twenty-five minutes too long, despite some nice concepts.”

Sometimes, you just have to sit back and let the DVD sleeve do the talking. “The notorious serial killer, Harry Eugene Loveless AKA Mr. HELL roamed from town-to-town and job-to-job, brutally murdering his victims, with the demonic intention of removing the ‘windows to the soul’ – their eyes! Mr. HELL mutilated Dr. Karl Matthews at a government laboratory where biological weapons were secretly being developed. The daughter’s precocious daughter, Tyler, who discovered her father’s body with his eyes missing, was then pursued by Harry through the lab’s subterranean tunnels. During the chase, Harry was accidentally destroyed by toxic industrial acid, and his remains flowed into a storage container. Was this the end for Mr. HELL?

Fourteen years later, we find a grown-up Tyler, now a security guard at the lab soon scheduled for demolition. during the lab’s closing process, incompetent waste removal workers unwittingly release Harry’s toxic essence. Mr. HELL is back, and on the hunt! Complicating matters, a group of mercenaries led by Dominique Horney, invade the laboratory to steal a hidden vial of deadly bacterium to sell to terrorists. This small private army may be prepared for a few security guards, but not for Mr. HELL! As for Tyler, will she survive the band of professional killers and defeat, once again, the diabolical butcher, Mr. HELL?!”

Phew. Enough going on there for two films at least. And that’s the problem: they’d have been better off dealing with the entire first half in a five-minute flashback, but it drags on and on – Chris bailed for the Land of Nod before the mercenaries turned up. I stayed conscious…well, mostly, but it was a struggle, not least because of the horrible performance by the grown-up Tyler (Morris), who is thoroughly unconvincing. Scoggins is better, and there are a number of other, decently-strong female characters, for which the makers deserve credit – it’s nice to see the heroine in a horror film not needing to be rescued. However, just about every other aspect is inadequate, from the special effects through dialogue which is far too often trying to be clever, rather than genuinely smart to an atonal score that grates horribly for the vast majority of the time.

Most low-budget horror films do keep their running time as short as possible; cheaper that way. Mr. Hell run 102 minutes, which is positively epic for the genre. They should have let Mr. Hell – sorry: Mr. HELL – loose on the script to slice ‘n’ dice it, as it’s in serious need of tightening. The ‘deadly bacterium’, for example, is no more than a Macguffin, thrown away for the benefit of a poor ‘melt’ effect at the end. With better writing, and a better lead actress, this could have lived up to the potential of the synopsis. Unfortunately, it only does so very sporadically, and despite our love for the genre, I can’t recommend this overall.

Dir: Rob McKinnon
Star: Amy Morris, Jett Texas Elliott, Larry Cashion, Tracy Scoggins

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