When I saw Hellgate in my workload I cringed a little when I saw Cary Elwes’ name. The guy was great in The Princess Bride, hilarious in Robin Hood Men In Tights, but he’s never been that great an actor or produced many films that I would call classics (other then the two aforementioned films). Then I saw that William Hurt was also in the film. I love Hurts body of work. He’s usually the all knowing figure who hides in the shadows until something important needs to be revealed, like in Artificial Intelligence or A History Of Violence. He was even more impressive in the Stephen King short Battleground, from the Nightmares and Dreamscapes collection, where he plays a hitman that doesn’t utter a single word throughout his role. So I had no idea how this would pan out.
The film stars Elwes as a husband and father whose family dies in a tragic car accident in, what I assumed was, Thailand. When he awakens from his coma like slumber he’s shocked to find that he can now see the spirits of the dead and the dead aren’t playing nice.
Along for the ride is a hospice nurse who was surprised to find that, despite the dim prognosis, Elwes is still with the world of the living. She is a native to the area and, of courses, knows people who can help him with his new and unwanted gift of vision. First it’s an Aunt and then it’s a spiritual man who has a history with the family, played by Hurt.
There were a lot of interesting aspects of this horror film, a genre that I don’t often find entertaining. Aside from Elwes seeing the dead he also notices strange things about himself that will probably lead people to assume one thing or another about his condition. If you’ve seen a lot of horror films this will be an inevitable assumption. That plays as a decent, though not revolutionary, twist in the horror story that unfolds.
For the most part the story behind Elwes’ situation is pretty awesome and I wish they would simply have cast a better number of actors and actresses to take on the roles. Elwes is simply awful. The guy is a stage actor, over exaggerating every word, over animating every move. I just couldn’t get into his character enough to make a connection. Ploy Jindachote plays Choi, Elwes’ hospice nurse. Her character’s dialogue delivery is stammered with short spatters of sentences as she tried to act ominous, as if she hears and believes everything Elwes is saying. It gets old quick.
Hurt plays Warren, the spiritual guide for Elwes as he attempts to rid himself of this visions. Hurt is a tattooed surfer type who lives on the outskirts of wherever with a couple of beautiful women who act as window dressing. Warren has a story of his own which is used to little effect, and even Hurt can’t take on his role with much bravado. It’s like everyone they cast into this film was ion it for the paycheck.
As for the scary horror aspect. I hated it. The monsters looked like they rolled around in some BBQ Pork and growled at the camera a lot, which the camera responds by zooming in and out and making fast cut aways. Maybe it’s because I just didn’t believe in the characters, whose failure took away from a fantastic story, but I just didn’t feel this film. It had potential, but to put it bluntly, it sucked.