A real estate development firm plans on opening up one of your fancy-ass 5 star resorts on a beautiful island in the Pacific Ocean, but as fate (and the fright flick rulebook) would have it things aren’t going to go smoothly with that lil’ bit of business. While most of the property is gorgeous A.F., there just so happens to be an abandoned WWII bunker on the property. Flying in the face of common sense, the firm’s agent and their island guides head on in to map out this foreboding structure…and guess what? The entire area is cursed for all time, our protagonists become trapped within and an ancient evil must be faced!
As always, let’s take a look at what works with Gehenna: Where Death Lives. First up, the locations and environments are utilized well, with the natural beauty of Saipan (the island where the film was lensed) contrasting nicely with the claustrophobic confines of the sets used to realize the haunted bunker. Also of note the acting and cinematography are strong, as is the effects work utilized to bring the outre horrors to life.
As for the negative, man oh man does this film have problems with the dreaded “P” word; pacing. The exploration of the bunker soon falls into tedium as similar looking environs are featured again…and again…and again over the overly long hour and forty six minute run time of the film. Also, the tension never really mounts, even after the supernatural elements are introduced, leaving the entire affair seem kind of flat. Finally, even though Doug Jones and Lance Henriksen’s names are featured prominently, their screen time is practically non-existent, so viewer beware.
All in all, Gehenna: Where Death Lives is by no means a bad film; it’s well shot with solid performances, locations and effects work, but it never rises above to become a must see film, or even one worth revisiting.
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