Low-budget flick Hellweek seems to be influenced by movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Saw, and House of 1,000 Corpses. It involves an urban legend about a messed up family that once owned this old doll factory…and a bunch of kids that decides to do some hazing in it.
I’ll get the expected bad out of the way. The movie has an issue common to low-budget horror—a lot of pointless subplot and dialogue that pads the film and actually ends up making it run too long. Hellweek is an hour and forty-five minutes! There’s too much drama and shenanigans at a party, and most of it is not necessary (nor entertaining). There are also some “time shift” problems—it will be daytime, then an instant later, in the same scene, it’s dead of night.
But I have to say—I truly liked the horror portions of Hellweek a lot. I thought a majority of the actors did a good job and were very natural. And director Eddie Lengyel delivers some excellent twisted fun. The atmosphere and location are creepy and effective. The gore is grisly; even when we don’t actually see what’s happening, we can feel what’s implied. And dammit, the cheapest scare in the whole movie nearly made me jump out of my skin. The tone of the film is strongly macabre. And what some bashers have called “amateur” camera techniques, well, they’re called tried and true for a reason. They work. One of the most disturbing scenes uses a cool virtually black and white presentation with just accents of color.
The sick “family” that lives in the doll factory is bizarre and darkly funny at times. Most of them wear some damn gruesome masks. And their freakiness amps up as the movie progresses. We never learn what their real deal is. Have they been living there for years? Are they ghosts? Are they recruiting new family members? We never know, but it doesn’t really matter. The insanity going on in that doll factory shouldn’t be cleared up. That’s the whole charm of the nightmare.
I can’t talk about a fraternity horror film without mentioning the guys. The fact that most of them are obnoxious and not drop dead gorgeous models is what makes them so hot. The one beefy muscle stud blesses us by spending a good portion of the film in only overalls. Perfection. There are a few other shirtless guys, including a smooth tight body and a nice furry chest.
The alternate opening included on the DVD is AWESOME. Director Eddie Lengyel compresses all the horrific imagery he sprinkles throughout the full feature into like 5 minutes. And what’s amazing—and something I’ve never seen before on a DVD—if you select the alternate opening in the bonus features, it seamlessly starts to play the entire movie right after.
My only real complaint is the terrible DVD cover; with so many disturbing visual moments in the movie, why did they go with the most generic shot ever of a chick looking scared?