I came to see ghouls, ghosts, and demons…

…and this triple feature didn’t let me down in those areas. But which film was the most satsifying: Gehenna, The Night Shift, or Darkness Reigns?

GEHENNA: WHERE DEATH LIVES (2016)

Gehenna shoehorns several plots you’ve seen before into a single story that didn’t quite grab me. It’s like all the horror boxes are checked and I like aspects of what I was seeing, but the results never click—and there’s just way too much going on.

Businessman Lance Henriksen sends a small band of his employees to scout a location for a new resort. Why they end up going into a creepy cave in the jungle is beyond me. And why they keep exploring when things get ominous is even more beyond me.

They find corpses. They find a nearly dead man who tries to warn them of something.

Everything quakes, lights flicker. Then each individual is terrorized by a mishmosh of demonic versions of deceased loved ones they feel guilt over losing and the people in the group who die then come back from the dead.

The movie is all over the place, riddled with orchestral stabs to make you jump, has a painfully cliché self-centered asshole, and is perhaps too well lit for a cave setting to deliver the kind of atmosphere that keeps me on edge (meanwhile, if it was all too dark I’d be bitching that I can’t see shit).

It’s also an agonizing hour and forty-five minutes. Editing it down by about twenty minutes and watering down the increasingly ineffective number of cheap scare attempts might have made it flow a bit better.

THE NIGHT SHIFT (2016)

Director Massimiliano Cerchi (Hellbilly, Carnage Road, Insane, Satan Claus) puts his low budget style to work on a general plot that has become a staple these days—a security guard left alone in a haunted location.

This short movie focuses incessantly on the guard as he walks around the house he’s been assigned to, getting scared by visions of robed figures and talking out loud, which becomes hard to take seriously after a while.

He also gets calls from the mysterious owner of the house and attempts not to fall asleep, which he’s been warned several times not to do.

Horror queen Sadie Katz eventually shows up for some sex, and the guard begins getting chased around by robed ghouls.

It’s cheesy satanic cult fun complete with a goofy demon voice that sounds like something out of an 80s movie, but I think it would work better if it were shortened and included as a story in an anthology.

DARKNESS REIGNS (2017)

Having just watched Haunting of Cellblock 11 by director Andrew P. Jones, I didn’t hesitate to check this one out as well. Jones is “kind of” giving us found footage films, but adds a little something more to break the mold.

Darkness Reigns begins with a movie director at an event, introducing his film and recalling where it all went horribly wrong…

The film is comprised of footage of a behind-the-scenes documentary that was being made while he was making a movie in a supposedly haunted hotel.

Aside from the whole cast and crew, on hand is a consultant medium dude to ensure authenticity, as well as the film’s big name star…Casper Van Dien playing himself! As a bonus, he plays with his furry cleavage while another man watches.

Smartly, after a small amount of touring the set (which also provides effective hints of ghostly happenings), the guy with the camera begins interviewing Van Dien…and the shit hits the fan! Casper’s big scene rocks, after which the entire crew is immediately attacked by an unknown force.

There’s some brief possession, flies are vomited, and demons terrorize the main characters as they try to stay alive and figure a way out.

The plot twist is definitely devilish, although you might guess parts of it before all is said and done.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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