Brian Faherty, Jeremy Cohen, Chelsea Miller, Teddy Alexandro-Evans
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY
NR (Likely an equivalent to "R")
Singa Home Entertainment
With "Hell's Gate," an independent film shot on an estimated $35,000 budget, first time filmmaker John Cecil has crafted a stylish, involving and action-filled crime thriller with a surprisingly satisfying emotional core.
"Hell's Gate" stars Brian Faherty as a thirtysomething ex-con trying stay straight but not doing a great job at it. His friend and former cellmate, Ben (Jeremy Cohen), will do anything for a buck and falls under the spell of charismatic baddie Mr. Nobody (Teddy Alexandro-Evans), a mysterious and well-connected figure who offers the guys a chance to split a cool $1.5 million for the kidnapping of a local billionaire's daughter, Kim Sutherland (Chelsea Miller).
Adapted from Cecil's stage play, "Hell's Gate" has an eerie voyeuristic quality, essentially a circular film in which the drama plays out with these three men encircling their tied up victim in an abandoned warehouse as the story unfolds.
Being a crime thriller, it practically goes without saying that nothing in "Hell's Gate" will go as planned and agendas, both obvious and not so obvious, will soon be revealed.
Unlike many similar films, however, there's a tremendously satisfying moral dilemma at the center of "Hell's Gate" that creates a greater investment for the film's viewers. There's something wonderful to be said for a film in which no single character is truly good or bad. In Cecil's world, they simply seem to be acting out of their gut instinct which allows for both primal urges and moral quandaries. "Hell's Gate" gives the appearance of simplicity, but unfolds with great complexity and multiple layers.
The ensemble cast is uniformly strong, though Faherty and Cohen particularly shine as the conflicted friends who clearly believe in loyalty but struggle to erase the impact of how their lives have played out.
Cecil's cinematography has a film noirish quality about it, and the accompanying production design gives the the film and old-school pulp feeling to it.
While the film's incredibly modest budget is occasionally quite obvious, especially with a few sound issues, "Hell's Gate" will be a satisfying experience for fans of old Eastwood flicks and the early action filmmakers who inspired the likes of Tarantino.
Stylishly designed and intelligently written, "Hell's Gate" is a solid first film from writer/director John Cecil. "Hell's Gate" is being released on home video by Singa Home Entertainment
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic