An homage to some of the kitschiest classic horror in film history, Here Comes Hell clearly presents its intentions to you from the very first moment. Even down to the long credit sequence at the beginning of the film and the authentically vintage 4:3 aspect ratio, Here Comes Hell is constructed in the style of a far, far earlier film. Its quirky style is very different from anything you’d expect of other 2019 releases, but it has a lot more to offer than simple nostalgia.
The film follows a group of wealthy Bertie Wooster-esque friends who gather in an old mansion in the English countryside for a weekend of wine and revelry. Their flamboyant host informs them that he has organised for a medium to conduct a séance as their entertainment for the night. From there, things unfold, well, quite how you would expect them to.
Here Comes Hell comes complete with a generous helping of horror tropes, piled so thickly on top of each other and woven together so expertly that they become a wonderful tapestry. The séance opens a portal to hell, the characters turn on each other, and each hallucinates their own worst fear. These sequences marry together in a way that is genuinely endearing and adds to the overall charm of the film, which lands somewhere between a classic portmanteau like 1945’s Dead of Night and Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead.
In keeping with the aesthetic, the effects on show have a wonderfully vintage feel. Despite characters getting afflicted with all kinds of hellish injuries throughout the narrative, there is no CG in the film. Instead, there are some beautifully crafted practical effects that pay a worthy tribute to the efforts that went into making early cinema such a joy to behold. Equally fittingly, there are others that look hilariously fake. These analogue touches come together to create something that is far more enjoyable than yet another grey-brown modern horror movie.
Much like every other element of Here Comes Hell, the characters embody some cliches of the genre. They are that typical elite of Downtown Abbey-style stories – born into money and never having worked a day in their life, all gorgeous and self-indulgent.
The audience is offered a way in in the form of Elizabeth (Jessica Webber). Her characterisation is a lot more endearing. She’s a little rough around the edges, having been invited along but not quite part of the group. As the going gets tough she comes into her own, growing in confidence and tenacity.
Although the rest of the characters feel like archetypes, they also twist the tropes that they are built on. The way their relationships develop start off in a way that feels familiar, but as the film builds to a climax, they each evolve into something more refreshing than you might predict.
Here Comes Hell is a very carefully crafted film that does exactly what it sets out to do, delivering a unique horror experience that blends a vintage sensibility with a modern appetite for gore. It is a fitting tribute to some gems of the early days of horror cinema and offers a little variety to the typical horror listings in 2019.