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Hell (Bright) 2011: Sun, Sun, Sun, Here It Comes

Hell (Bright) (Tim Fehlbaum, 2011)

photo credit: Dread Central

When going outside without SPF 2000 becomes a bad idea.

Hell reminded me a great deal of another, even lower-budget, German film for no real reason I can put my finger on, Jens Wolf’s Noctem. While this one has more plot, better acting, and an even bleaker outlook on life, while I was watching it, my mind kept stealing back to Wolf’s 2003 effort, which I found quite good given its lack of professional talent both in front of and behind the camera; “a labor of love” is, at least when I use it, often a synonym for “unrepentantly amateur”, but Wolf transcended that and came up with something, if not deathless, quite watchable and a good deal of fun. I got that same vibe from Fehlbaum (Nicht Meine Hochzeit)’s second feature, though I rush to add that with both of these films I’m using the word “fun” in a rather loose sense.

 

photo credit: wearemoviegeeks.com

What passes for midnight in the world of Bright.

Fehlbaum’s movie gives us a makeshift family—Tom (Unknown’s Stipe Erceg), Marie (The Reader‘s Hannah Herzsprung), and Leonie (Hanni and Nanni‘s Lisa Vicari)—living in a post-apocalyptic world where the Earth is moving, ever so slowly, closer to the sun. Being outside without being fully covered is almost instant death. There is no darkness, as we know it, just periods of less light. Tom and co. are making do the way most survivors in this world presumably do—a nomadic existence in a station wagon that contains their earthly possessions, raiding abandoned gas stations for fuel, trying to get to a fabled compound in the mountains where, supposedly, they can settle down. The film’s first confrontation comes at an abandoned fuel station, where another drifter, Phillip (Home for the Weekend‘s Lars Eidinger), attempts to make off with some of their stuff, and instead ends up coming along for the ride. But that’s a minor inconvenience compared to what happens when they finally make it to the mountains and find out that yes, the compound does exist—but that they’re not taking new applicants…

photo credit: film-book.com

“What do you say, just this one, the hell with Capistrano?”

 

It’s an interesting genre thriller that has pretensions at being more than it is. This is not at all a bad thing, and Fehlbaum, who also co-wrote with longtime partner Oliver Kahl and Anatomy scribe Thomas Wöbke, is to be commended for his ambition. That the movie ultimately fails in those pretensions takes nothing away from its status as a good, solid genre thriller once the core characters get into the mountains and the game of cat-and-mouse begins; if you decide to pop this one into the DVD player, you’ll get an entertaining piece of cinema, though little more than that. But oftentimes that’s all you need. ***

 

Trailer!

Hell (Bright) (Tim Fehlbaum, 2011)

Hell reminded me a great deal of another, even lower-budget, German film for no real reason I can put my finger on, Jens Wolf’s Noctem. While this one has more plot, better acting, and an even bleaker outlook on life, while I was watching it, my mind kept stealing back to Wolf’s 2003 effort, which I found quite good given its lack of professional talent both in front of and behind the camera; “a labor of love” is, at least when I use it, often a synonym for “unrepentatly amateur”, but Wolf transcended that and came up with something, if not deathless, quite watchable and a good deal of fun. I got that same vibe from Fehlbaum (Nicht Meine Hochzeit)’s second feature, though I rush to add that with both of these films I’m using the word “fun” in a rather loose sense.

Fehlbaum’s movie gives us a makeshift family—Tom (Unknown’s Stipe Erceg), Marie (The Reader‘s Hannah Herzsprung), and Leonie (Hanni and Nanni‘s Lisa Vicari)—living in a post-apocalyptic world where the Earth is moving, ever so slowly, closer to the sun. Being outside without being fully covered is almost instant death. There is no darkness, as we know it, just periods of less light. Tom and co. are making do the way most survivors in this world presumably do—a nomadic existence in a station wagon that contains their earthly possessions, raiding abandoned gas stations for fuel, trying to get to a fabled compound in the mountains where, supposedly, they can settle down. The film’s first confrontation comes at an abandoned fuel station, where another drifter, Phillip (Home for the Weekend‘s Lars Eidinger), attemts to make off with some of their stuff, and instead ends up coming along for the ride. But that’s a minor inconvenience compared to what happens when they finally make it to the mountains and find out that yes, the compound does exist—but that they’re not taking new applicants…

It’s an interesting genre thriller that has pretensions at being more than it is. This is not at all a bad thing, and Fehlbaum, who also co-wrote with longtime partner Oliver Kahl and Anatomy scribe Thomas Wöbke, is to be commended for his ambition. That the movie ultimately fails in those pretensions takes nothing away from its status as a good, solid genre thriller once the core characters get into the mountains and the game of cat-and-mouse begins; if you decide to pop this one into the DVD player, you’ll get an entertaining piece of cinema, though little more than that. But oftentimes that’s all you need. ***

About Robert "Goat" Beveridge

Media critic (amateur, semi-pro, and for one brief shining moment in 2000 pro) since 1986. Guy behind noise/powerelectronics band XTerminal (after many small stints in jazz, rock, and metal bands). Known for being tactless but honest.

One response »

  1. Pingback: Carriers (2009): On the Road Again | Popcorn for Breakfast

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