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NYAFF Review: Let’s All Say, “Hail to Hell”

For most, the world isn’t a fount of glory and goodness. There are good days and there are bad, but it’s fair to say most people struggle with the later.

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It’s easy to get bogged down in the negative and let it control you. When you’re younger, it is even harder to understand that you’ll be able to overcome the trials and tribulations hammered down upon you by cruel, self-centered, little twerps. It can seem that all roads just lead to Hell, but what if Hell is something you’re already familiar with?

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Na-mi and Sun-woo are outcasts among their school mates. Bullied and humiliated, they will do anything to not be around their peers. With an upcoming school trip promising all types of for their tormentors to rain down new levels of pain onto them, they two girls plot a way to skip out on the trip. Not only are they planning to miss the trip, they’ve entered into a suicide pact they will go through with and finally end their earthly woes. Just as Na-mi is about to go through with her end of the pact, Sun-woo discovers that the bully that started their never ending woes is living happily in Seoul.

Through the rumor mill, they had been led to believe the main source of their pain, Chae-rin, had run into some issues of her own. She had somehow been struck with her own misfortunes which made it ok for them to not think about her. But when they see her living a happy and thriving life via social media, their suicide pact is put on hold so they can track Chae-rin down and make sure whatever life she has left, is one of a living hell.

Hail to Hell is one trippy journey that never actually leaves the plane of reality. As Na-mi and Sun-woo seem close to going through with any of their plans, reality checks in and changes the game. Yet, the truth behind the awkwardly twisted religious cult that Chae-rin has found herself living in starts to create a winding staircase down to a level of twisted cultism that you wouldn’t be shocked if the movie derailed completely into some supernatural nonsense.

Luckily, that isn’t the case. While a level of dystopian hierarchies akin to stories like V for Vendetta and Equilibrium peek their heads into the narrative; this a grounded tale. Without trying to give away the applecart, Hail to Hell at first travels down a road of revenge. In many ways it feels like we’re stuck in a tale of school shooters before the worst takes place. But as little pieces begin to unfold and fall into place, the same emotions gets shifted into another facet of other lives.

No one is subject to be forgiven for no reason, or allowed to breeze through the rest of their lives riding on a cloud of redemption. But forgiveness or for lack of a better term, understanding, certainly takes the wheel a bit and allows for more level headed thinking to take control. And the young cast comprised of Bang Hyo-rin, Oh Woo-ri, Jung Yi-ju really help move that story along without it feeling like fake presentation of a real world.

You can easily step into a film like Hail to Hell with no prior knowledge wondering, “Am I about to see a Satan worshiping film?” But even with a precursory expectation of what you’re in for, it doesn’t become completely clear how the title makes sense until you’re almost to the end of the tale. But when it becomes clear, you to will find yourself thanking everyday you get to spend in hell.

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Grade: B

Check out more of Matthew’s articles.

Here’s the trailer of the film.

Matthew Schuchman
Matthew Schuchmanhttps://www.cinemadailyus.com
In the early 90s, while at the video store with his friends who wanted to rent Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead, Matthew asked the clerk if they had any copies of Naked Lunch available. A film buff from an early age, he would turn his fascination into his own review site in 2010; Movie Review from Gene Shalit’s Moustache. From there, he provided his voice to such publications as Den of Geek, Coming Soon, and Verbicide magazine as a film reviewer and talent interviewer.

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