So, my first warning should have been "From Roland Emmerich..." but I didn't really see that on the little miniature version of the poster for this movie that popped up in my Netflix queue. You know how it is: it's Saturday night, basketball season is over, the missus went to a book club meeting, you are sick as a dog, and you're scrolling through your queue, looking for something to scratch that cheap genre itch.
I have a couple hundred movies on my list, many of which demand respect and should have won out over this selection. And yet I am a child of the 80's, and I love sci-fi, and post-apocalyptic stuff in particular, so when something like this shows up, it gets thrown into the mix for future perusal. And this weekend, well, Hell's number came up.
Hell is a 2011 Swiss-German movie, set in the year something or other, where the Earth's temperature has risen 10 degrees Celsius (which translates to 15 litres, or 240 cubits, I believe), making everything very hot, bright, and unpleasant. We know this because whenever our protagonists leave the confines of their car, the film stock gets all washed out and we can't really see anything.
Since this is a post-apocalypse movie, you should already know that everything centers around Gas and Water. From The Road Warrior to Ice Pirates, we have been trained to understand that fuel and hydration are all that really matter in the future, and we will be willing to fight to the death (sometimes wearing spiked football shoulderpads, sometimes wearing eye patches and sleeveless shirts) to procure them.
Hell follows a lady, her teen sister, and the lady's boyfriend as they plan to drive into the Alps in hopes of finding sustenance. I don't remember any of the character names because who cares. While stopping in at a seemingly abandoned gas station (Note: seemingly abandoned anythings are never actually abandoned) they encounter a scruffy guy who seeks to rob them of their supplies. There is a scuffle, then a potentially lethal stand-off, and then once it turns out that he knows how to change a fan belt, he becomes a welcome member of the group. Because hey, mechanic.
What follows is unfortunately a very rote and unremarkable march through the tropes of Post-'Poc flicks: searches for water, roving gangs of bad guys, sexual assault and cannibalism. Such elements are ripe for exploitation thrills, but this movie is sorely lacking in that regard. With this material you either need to do something new, or go for the throat. Hell tries to play it straight down the middle, and in doing so amounts to little more than a series of foreign language outtakes of lesser scenes from The Road.
To be sure this isn't a bad movie. The performances are fine, even good, and the movie is competently constructed. But in such a crowded genre, it's going to take more to rise above the heard. Hell falls far short of its namesake. I'm willing to go as far as Heck, and that's generous.