In terms of simplistic, straight-to-the-point independent horror…there is no one film greater than John Carpenter’s 1978 masterpiece Halloween. Many movies have tried to cash in or replicate the magic that happened for that particular movie, some with great success and others not quite as much. Anchor Bay Canada’s latest offering on DVD; A Place In Hell falls into the latter category. Set in the New Jersey countryside, Hell follows a group of film students shooting their first film for a final project on location at an abandoned outdoor Halloween park once used for public entertainment. Little do they know that the location has become the refuge for a serial killer who has been hiding out from the law for some time (and still has a 5-year obsessed detective dedicated to finding him).
Although it certainly has a great setting and a set-up for a half-decent horror film, A Place In Hell is anything but. First reason is that it behaves mostly like a soap-opera or arguably an amateur student film all its own, backed up by some very-over-the-top stereotypical character acting (i.e. the troubled detective, the egotistical female blond who only thinks of herself and her ‘destiny’ as a star). Secondly it almost has no shame being a rip-off of Halloween itself, complete with exact camera visual cues (like the point-of-view through the eye holes of a mask while the killer moves about). Plus the film falters to build any real suspense or terror surrounding the killer, a viewer gets a good look at the antagonist’s face right off-the-bat. As a whole, the film is a considerable bore, especially as it bounces between the film group and the cop angle (which you find yourself caring very little about).
On DVD, the video quality is fairly standard and watchable, but the picture image (presented in an Anamorphic Widescreen with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio) is full of heavy black levels, grain and rough transfer results. Sound quality is fairly good as the DVD provides some clear and balanced dialogue among the aesthetic winter setting but it’s not an audio mix (a standard Dolby Digital 5.1) that delivers a ton of specifics.
Adding fuel to the proverbial fire that the DVD edition doesn’t bring much to the table is the fact that the disc is completely devoid of any bonus features. First time feature writer and director David Boorboor seems ill-equipped to give A Place In Hell any worthwhile substance or some artistic style of his own, instead relying on the past tricks of a iconic motion picture to help carry his to the end. Based on everything A Place In Hell brings to the table as a DVD release, more than likely you will see it filling up its own place at the bottom of retail bargain bins before long.