Hell is a film about the end of the world following some catastrophic solar malfunction, but it’s at least as much an art-house horror flick. Initially it comes across as a Teutonic rendition of The Road (2009), which is the most relentlessly pessimistic SHTF flick I’ve seen to date and one I’d resolved never to watch again even though I do own a copy. About halfway through, the apocalypse of Hell gives way to horror themes as a band of sullen cannibals try to abduct and slaughter the main characters.
The overall vision of apocalypse in Hell is credible, but it’s a tedious and plodding sort of apocalypse. People are pretty much scurrying around in the dark, or else wrapped in sheets and ski goggles so they don’t burst into flame from the intense daylight. There’s naturally no water because it stopped raining after the sun malfunction, and so the main characters are pretty much looking for a drink whenever they’re not being chased by the cannibals.
The trouble with Hell is that it was made in Germany, about Germans, and filmed in German. As such, there’s just the confluence of ennui and anomie that one might expect of a German hell. There are few clear connections among the characters, and with the exception of the two sisters at the center of the story none of them seem to like each other.
They don’t so much dislike each other either. It’s more that they’re inherently unsympathetic, and have just barely been lifted out of apathy by the critical need that has been inflicted on them. This makes it a little difficult to relate to them, at least from an American perspective.
The film absolutely does not embrace the full potential of the genre, but neither is it boring. There’s a fair amount of action, and the characters try to kill each other off a lot with hammers and jackknives (no guns in the European apocalypse, you know). Hell was sitting in line for a WTF? rating until the last twenty minutes or so when the main characters were injected with an adequate dose of humanity as a closer. It’s worth a look if you like SHTF stuff.