Corey Feldman - Kyle Brenner
Jill Whelan - Jill Hudson
Nicole Cinaglia - June
Kyle Patrick Brennan - Erik Sanborn
Joe Raffa - Kellen Hudson
David J. Bonner - Chris Allen
Ashley Summer - Kelly
Nikki Bell - Stacey Sanborn
Faust Checho - Chief John Hansen
Brian Gallagher - Uncle Jack
Brian Anthony Wilson - Deputy Hendricks
Genre - Horror/Supernatural/Demons/Possession
Running Time - 90 Minutes
[Taken from the synopsis from Breaking Glass Pictures]
In Northeast Pennsylvania, "Uncle Jack's House of Horrors" is besieged by a dark presence after two friends of Uncle Jack (Brian Gallagher), Chris (David J. Bonner) and Kellen (Joe Raffa), unwittingly release a deadly evil by transporting local psychic Mary Wilkins' (Susan Moses) collection of haunted objects as props for the popular tourist attraction. At the same time, a local TV ghost hunter (Kyle Patrick Brennan), confronts an evil that has haunted him all his life - one he believes is responsible for his sister's (Nikki Bell) death years ago.
The search puts him in the path of a rogue police chief (Faust Checho) and June (Nicole Cinaglia) - a girl who seems to be the eye of this supernatural perfect storm. They all find themselves connected to the old hotel with the threads of their own personal horrors draw paranormal investigator Kyle Brenner (Corey Feldman) to pull the threads together...
I've been hearing about 6 DEGREES OF HELL for the past few months now. It was much hyped by horror websites and social networking, especially Facebook and YouTube. The fact that it stars Corey Feldman gave the film a nostalgic feeling and cult buzz about the project, gaining many likes on the film's Facebook page and its trailer many views on YouTube. Getting the screener from Breaking Glass Pictures, I was excited about watching this to see what all the buzz was about. I wish I wasn't, because 6 DEGREES OF HELL disappointed the hell out of me. 6 DEGREES OF BOREDOM is more like it.
The problem, without question, lies within the film's screenplay. The narrative is a mess in every way, confusing the viewer with flashbacks, dream sequences, and psychic visions. I honestly couldn't get into the film because of this, as I wasn't sure where the film was going and why I should even care. It took me multiple sittings to watch this film from beginning to end, with me pausing it to do something else before pressing "play" and watching the rest. I shouldn't feel that way about a film, especially a horror movie.
Flashbacks, dreams, and visions don't normally bother me. In fact, they can enhance a film's story if introduced right and used correctly. However, 6 DEGREES OF HELL just introduces these moments without any sort of real set up. In fact, I felt as if I just stepped into someone's story that has been ongoing for a while now. It's like getting the punchline without hearing the joke first. How am I supposed to react when I have no clue what the backstory is? Why is this important? How will it matter at the end? Some of these moments do manage to answer those questions, but they pop up so out of the blue that you're thrown for a loop. It messes up the flow of the storytelling, which took me out of the viewing experience.
It didn't help that the characters - well 95% of them - were really unlikeable and annoying to me. You had a bland teen psychic who didn't really come alive until the final act. You had these two best friends who wanted the same girl. One of them is a total douchebag to everyone, including his parents and any form of authority figure. This guy didn't exit the film quick enough for me. The other friend is traumatized by losing his girlfriend and deals with it by screwing the psychic chick, to which she doesn't bother opposing. There's this dick head for a sheriff. Uncle Joe is a selfish opportunist who only cares about fame and money, not caring the stuff he uses inside his hotel is cursed with evil. The only one that I had any semblance of sympathy for was the TV ghost hunter, Erik. Why? Because he wasn't annoying and he had a backstory I could understand, which allowed me to justify his actions throughout the film. The presence of the evil and why it was attracted to the main characters also made sense, although it made me wonder why it had decided to act now instead of earlier in time. I guess if it did that, there would be no story to tell.
The way the story is presented to the audience is also a flaw. The events we see on screen are told by a deputy, who claims to have witnessed our main story, to a paranormal investigator. This type of narration could work if it was told the right way, but 6 DEGREES OF HELL has trouble doing that. It doesn't help that this narrator is very unreliable. Yes, the ending may explain why this person would know as much as he does. But how does he know the personal moments between the main characters if he wasn't there to witness them? How does he know about the visions? The flashbacks? The dreams? It's kind of odd. Also, this character kind of gives away who survived this ordeal. If the paranormal dude wasn't able to get the story from any of the main characters, their fates don't look very good, do they? It also felt very forced as well, as if this is the only reason why these two characters were even in the film to begin with. I wish the story would have just been told with more of a straightforward direction. It probably would have been more inviting to the viewer, instead of boring them and making them get distracted with other stuff.
Luckily for 6 DEGREES OF HELL, the rest of the film is more hit than miss. The final act of the film, involving the Hotel of Horrors, is actually pretty good and full of action. It's shot like a madhouse, with the workers of this hotel becoming possessed by evil and killing all the guests who came to tour the attractions. If the film was just about this, I would have been more favorable towards it. It's the only time where I felt something substantial happened and was leading towards something good. I also felt the opening segment was just as good as well. It's everything in between that was a mess.
The visual FX is pretty decent for a low budget flick. Whenever someone is possessed by evil, their eyes are completely black. This is done through CGI, which looks pretty good and makes the actors look creepy. We get some gore as well, mainly blood splatter. But what we do see of it is done with practical effects and looks better than okay. The make up work is decent as well.
The visual presentation by director Joe Raffa is actually very good. The pacing is a challenge though. And the screener I received was very pixelated, supposedly due to piracy issues that occurred, which I understand fully well. And while I wish I could have seen a crisper version of the film, I could tell 6 DEGREES OF HELL was shot very well. Framing, composition, and editing worked for me. The bleak look of the film was solid as well. Raffa does have an eye when it comes to filming, so I'm hoping his next project is more successful than this one.
The acting here was a mixed bag. Some people, like Kyle Patrick Brennan, David J. Bonner, and Faust Checho were pretty good in their roles. I thought lead actress Nicole Cinaglia was very bland, until the end, when it was too late. You would think Corey Feldman is the film's lead, since his name is plastered on the poster and promoted along with the film. But I think he had more screen time in the prologue of FRIDAY THE 13TH PART V: A NEW BEGINNING than he does in this film. And until the end, his character doesn't add much to the film. Feldman isn't terrible here, but he isn't great either. It's hard to talk about his performance when all he does is sit behind a desk, smoke, and quote generic dialogue. I'm sure his name will get people to see this film though, so good for the filmmakers on that.
THE FINAL HOWL