I first came across this movie in a bin of blu-rays at Wal-mart. I opted against getting it at the time, but I was pretty happy to see it on Netflix so I could give it a try.
Hell is a German film set in a post apocalyptic setting in which the Earth’s atmosphere has increased in temperature due to sun flares, killing most plant, animal and human life. With both water and gas running out, the protagonists of the film struggle to find a place where they can really be safe.
The setting of the film is really interesting. In order to give off a look of a world overcome by the sun, the locations are barren wastelands. Dust swirls through the air, and the dead trees don’t even creak in the breeze because there is none. I don’t normally advocate to shoot overexposed film, but in the case of this movie, it really worked. The overexposure makes the audience feel the overpowering heat and light of the sun. That, coupled with the piercing high pitch sound that accompanies it, really sets a tone for the film and to the struggle itself.
The camera work is overall pretty decent throughout the film. In one of the beginning scenes, the main characters are traveling by car with the windows completely covered to protect them from the sun. The camera work inside this car is pretty great. The area is enclosed, and the camera work doesn’t do anything to try to hide that fact. The characters would like nothing more than to be able to leave the car, and the claustrophobic camera work really shows that. It’s very intense and very intimate.
The two main characters are sisters, Marie and Leonie. They are accompanied by Phillip and Tom. The reason that I bring this up is because it was a pretty recurring theme throughout the film. Do the girls need the boys to survive? Could they make it on their own? Leonie asks this of her older sister on multiple occasions. It’s interesting. I couldn’t really tell you what the movie is really trying to say about women.
In my interpretation, I would probably say that Marie grows as a character throughout the film. She first is completely dependent on Phillip, never sticking up for herself, letting him command her to do things she doesn’t agree with. After something happens to Leonie, Marie is able to assert herself and do what she wants to do, not taking no for an answer. She will save her sister, whether Phillip comes with her or not. In the end, she proves that women can do things without men to protect them. There are a lot of other factors that seem to take away from this aspect of the film, but I’m choosing to look at it with my interpretation.
While the plot of the film is interesting, in the same way that post apocalyptic movies all are, it does rely heavily on apocalyptic tropes. There is nothing new in that regard. I wasn’t really surprised by anything that happened. The story starts to drag in the middle before picking up again toward the end. It is overall a very slowly paced film.
The casting is really quite good, and if you’re a fan of post apocalyptic movies, then you may find it very enjoyable. An interesting tidbit that I saw during the end credits is that Roland Emmerich was a producer for Hell. It makes a lot of sense in retrospect.
Hell is available with subtitles on Netflix for your viewing pleasure.