Movie Review: Catch Hell

Since I’m currently in the works of trying to write a contained horror script I decided to look up which films fell into that category and this came up. Apparently it came out in 2014, and is produced by Twisted Pictures (known for producing horror films) I was slightly confused as to why it was marketed as a thriller (at least from the blurb) especially since the plot would’ve resonated more with horror fans. I’m not the sort of person who reads reviews before jumping into films or books, I kinda prefer going into something totally blind so as not to spoil the experience with expectations or preconceived opinions.

Now, I wasn’t sure what to expect from a movie directed, co-written, and starring Ryan Phillippe (Cruel Intentions, I Know What You Did Last Summer) since his most recent credits include mostly the action genre but like most first time film directors there are two ways anyone’s first film can go they either make a horror (like Romola Garai’s Amulet) or they make a pseudo-autobiographical film (like Asia Argento’s Scarlet Diva). Now Phillippe decided to flip the switch and do both. It’s a horror film whose protagonist pretty much mirrors Phillippe himself. My horror fam will get me when I say that this film is a cross between Hostel and Lake Placid.

The premise is pretty simple, Reagan Pearce is an actor struggling to find the perfect project that will put him back in the game for A-list films, instead he finds himself having to take roles he’s not too crazy about, whilst also feeling the weight of what it means to be over 40 in Hollywood (basically, a death sentence). That’s why he finds himself heading out to Shreveport, Louisiana for a role he’s not too keen on but that his manager tells him he’s gotta do “cause you know why.”

The following morning he is picked up by a different driver than the day before. Two questionable rednecks pass themselves off as production members, and Reagan reluctantly gets in the van. It doesn’t take long for him to realize he’s made a major mistake but tries not to freak out as red flags are waving neon bright alarms. Unfortunately for him, he soon finds himself being held captive under the premise that he slept with the wife of one of the two men who abducted him. Mike (Ian Barford) is a violent man, convinced that Reagan needs to pay for his transgressions, whilst Junior (Stephen Louis Grush) goes along with the plan as a favor to his uncle. The two keep the actor chained to a wall in an isolated shack, the looks of it reminiscent of Saw.

It doesn’t take long for the torture to happen and as an ex-pianist I can’t help but majorly cringe whenever hands are severely crushed/maimed/or broken. If you’ve seen enough abduction films, you can kind of predict what’s going to happen but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I think this sort of film would’ve found a receptive audience in film fests like Shriekfest or Scream Fest at the time. As someone who has written/directed/starred in my own short film, I can definitely say that it’s a very difficult task so the fact that Phillippe managed to do all of that with 19 filming days, I’m impressed. Ultimately, we never know if Reagan had truly hooked up with Mike’s wife, but he definitely did know her.

The film’s strength is the unpredictability of the two villains, even when we start to see one as the nicer one, you’re thrown another twist and can’t help but cringe expecting the worst to happen. By the way, the nature of this film is high on tension so if you’re expecting to have a moment to relax with some comedic relief, it rarely occurs, but in a way allows us to fully immerse ourselves in Reagan’s perspective and thus feel the same uncertainty, fear, and dread.

If you’re a fan of contained semi-campy horror or just a fan of abduction movies, then I would recommend you to check it out.

And if for some reason Ryan Phillippe ever feels compelled to direct something vastly different (but yet still violently brutal) then he should hit me up cause Terror! Depicts the French Revolution in ways you haven’t seen before (plus it’s chock-full of gallows humor cause that’s the only humor I know).

Watch Catch Hell on Amazon Prime Video

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