Having really enjoyed writer/producer Harrison Smith's last film, the indie gem The Fields,
I found myself eagerly anticipating his latest project starring Corey Feldman, 6 Degrees of Hell.
Laugh if you will, but Feldman has been doing some mighty fine independent work lately and 6 Degrees of Hell
is actually quite the intriguing and creepy concept.
In the film, six individuals are caught within a supernatural "perfect storm" with an evil spirit laying claim to one of them and the very soul of a small Pennsylvania town being at stake.
While it may sound like your typical formulaic indie horror, I have the strong feeling that Smith's script is aiming higher than where the finished product ultimately lands. I think the same is true for director Joe Raffa, whose You'll Know My Name
was also picked up by distrib Breaking Glass Pictures and reviewed on this site.
Unfortunately, 6 Degrees of Hell
simply never gels mostly owing to a cast that appears to have watched too many of the bad horror films and not nearly enough of the good ones. There's moments of suspense and genuine horror, admittedly fleeting ones, but they are muted by paper-thin characters and a cast that simply can't seem to dig underneath the surface for the substance of this film.
And yes, I do believe there's supposed to be some substance here.
While Corey Feldman gets top billing, that's mostly owing to the familiarity and marketability of his name. Feldman isn't given enough to do here, the same problem that occurred with another of his recent films, Worth.
That's a shame, because Feldman gives the best performance here and it's hard not to wonder if this film could have been infinitely more compelling with a stronger Feldman presence. Brian Anthony Wilson has a decent appearance as Deputy Hendricks, while another familiar face to the site, Faust Checho, shows up as Chief Hansen.
In addition to the film's weak performances, the special effects are uncomfortably weak and unconvincing with several shots looking more like an Instagram than a motion picture. The film is shot on location at a real Halloween Haunted attraction in Pennsylvania known as the Hotel of Horror in Saylorsburg, PA, and Raffa even utilizes several of that attraction's actual performers in the film. Kudos simply must be given for the twisted soul responsible for finding the filming location, a location that sends off enough creepy vibes to compensate for a good amount of the film's shortfalls.
There's an emotionally resonant story to be found within 6 Degrees of Hell,
a film that starts off with enough trauma and tragedy that it's genuinely surprising how much the film doesn't resonate emotionally. Far from a disaster, 6 Degrees of Hell
does pick up steam about midway through and its best moments are in that mid-section before the final third doesn't succeed in tying up the loose ends satisfyingly (though, on a side note, the final third will likely be the most pleasing to fans of gorier horror).
For more information on 6 Degrees of Hell,
visit the film's Breaking Glass Pictures website.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic