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The Independent Critic

Molly Anderson, Jerod Meagher, Allen Lowman, Tasha Smith
Patrick Rea
Michelle Davidson

 "Hell Week" Review 
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Taking a slice out of college life and adding a dark twist, screenwriter Michelle Davidson and director Patrick Rea have put the hell back into Hell Week. The latest horror/thriller short from SenoReality Pictures, Hell Week starts off with an edgy playfulness before spiraling into psychological chaos.

Luke (Jerod Meagher) is a young man with a confident swagger and a one-way ticket into his chosen college frat. He successfully completes a prized trifecta that allows him to avoid the obligatory hell week hazing, but instead of joining his brothers on the big night he finds himself face-to-face with the consequences of his trifecta.

Weaving together the atmosphere of the 70's and 80's college-based horror flicks with the intimacy of a psychological thriller, Hell Week captivates because it is based neither in horror nor manipulated thrills but, instead, simple and everyday life on a college campus.

This is how it is on campus. You do realize that, don't you? Sure, the colleges and frats and sororities will show off all their high-end stadiums and top notch academic programs. Those are all fine and dandy, but there's a dark underbelly to college life and Hell Week catches a "What if" slice of it.

Think John Tucker Must Die - with a vengeance. Or maybe even a much edgier Revenge of the Nerds, though none of these ladies would necessarily qualify for geekdom.

They are pissed off young women, all of whom seemed to enter college life with hopes and dreams only to encounter a frat boy lothario without a conscience but with enough charm to hide that disturbing fact. They believed themselves to have captivated Luke, an attractive and promising young man, but instead they have now become captors. Mitzi (Meg Saricks), Aubrey (Molly Anderson) and Marla (Tasha Smith) exude a simultaneous playfulness and menacing nature that helps to create a scenario that never fully reveals itself until everything has played out.

Brought to us by SenoReality Pictures, who also gave us the 2011 Emmy award-winning Get Off My Porch, Hell Week doesn't quite fit as squarely in the horror genre but may, in fact, be even more horrifying because it's so much more grounded in the uncomfortable realities of everyday college life. Aubrey, Mitzi and Marla alternately feel harmless and horrifying, a weaving together that works to create suspense from the not knowing whether or not they're simply toying with this young man for his actions or if, in fact, they have a much more dastardly plan.

It is the strength of Rea's casting that really makes Hell Week leave such a strong impact. Jerod Meagher wisely portrays Luke as neither fully bad nor an innocent. There's just a smidgen of humanity in Meagher's otherwise swagger-filled performance that makes you realize why an innocent college girl would fall for his act and why the young man would think nothing of fulfilling a frat pledge at the expense of someone else's feelings.

Molly Anderson leads a trio of fine young actresses as Aubrey, portraying the one out of the three who seems to be the most merciful yet who also appears, in fleeting moments, to be the most wounded by Luke's actions. Tasha Smith and Meg Saricks seem to be less innocent and more certain and possess, perhaps, a differently expressed swagger that is both flirty and frightening.

D.P. Hanuman Brown-Eagle lenses the film nicely and helps to create just the right aura for the film, while Julian Bickford's original music lends a certain chill to the film's abundant thrills.

The recently finished Hell Week has already picked up the prize for Best Short at the 2011 Fright Night Film Festival, as it begins its destined to be successful run on the indie and horror fest circuit.

For more information on SenoReality Pictures, visit the production company's website.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic