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Hell's Ground (2007)

DVD Cover (Danger After Dark)
Genres:
Horror, Slasher Film, Zombie Film
Director:
Omar Khan Omar Khan
Starring:
Kunwar Ali Roshan Kunwar Ali Roshan
Rooshanie Ejaz Rooshanie Ejaz
Rubya Chaudhry Rubya Chaudhry
Haider Raza Haider Raza
Osman Khalid Butt Osman Khalid Butt

5.6 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Tristan
Added: March 15, 2009
When you think of Pakistan, what's the first thing that comes to mind? If you said horror movies you're a liar. I consider myself a pretty in-tune horror fan, and aside from the review you're about to read, I don't think I've ever heard of a Pakistani horror film. To be perfectly honest, I didn't even realize this was one until I first started watching it. The DVD cover sported a robed man wielding a mace, so that was enough for me to jump right in. Of course you'd think I'd notice the foreign writing on the cover as well, but those Amazon pictures just aren't that big. So what do I have in store for you tonight? Is it a zombie movie? Yes, but it's also a slasher film, a cannibal film, and a splatter film all rolled into one. It doesn't sound like it would work, but you'll be just as surprised as I was to find out that it did.

A group of teenagers skip school to buy a rundown old bus and take off cross-country to go to a metal concert. While making a pit stop they are warned by an old man to stay away from the forest, and be careful not to end up on any of the "shortcuts" in the area. Worried that they won't make their concert in time, the group decides to ignore the warning and take off through the forest anyway. It's not long before they come across a pack of zombies, who are infected by the contaminated local drinking water. They manage to make it out of that mess only to run out of gas on the deserted road. As they try to find a way out of the thick forest they come across a family of backwoods psychos a la Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and are soon on the run for their young lives. What the group doesn't realize is that there's even more danger in store for them in the form of a burqa wearing, mace wielding, maniac.

This film's big selling point is its claim to be Pakistan's first splatter film. I don't know if this is true or not, but its certainly the first and only one I've heard of. That said, I suppose I'm willing to believe that this is true as nothing I've read has led me to believe otherwise. It is very typical of a first time director to go for the gusto and squeeze as much into his movie as possible to show just what kind of a director he's capable of being or just in case he never gets the opportunity again. Rarely does this ever work out, but Omar khan pulls it off nicely. With a running time a little over an hour, he manages to to mash together the slasher, zombie and cannibal sub-genres and oddly enough, do it quite well. The film moves along at a good pace, not lingering on a scene for longer than it needs to. It's very clear that the director knew exactly what he wanted to shoot, and how he wanted to shoot it. After all, there's an awful lot of movie to pack into 75 minutes.

The one thing I was not counting on, or at least not counting on enjoying so much, was the music. While I'm not accustomed to the musical culture of Pakistan, I can only imagine this soundtrack was heavily influenced by it. It didn't seem like it would work in a horror movie, but the odd combination of bells and drums really helped to build up the suspenseful moments. Another great aspect of this movie which only helps to secure khan's position as a horror director is the use of weird camera lenses and smoke effects to give the film a very grimy feel. It was very reminiscent of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and other films from the Grindhouse era.

My only major beef was the zombie story losing its way part way through the film. The first half seems like its definitely going to be a zombie film, but then this story is completely disregarded. Maybe it was a budgeting issue, or maybe khan just wanted to flesh out some of the other genres quicker as the movie wasn't very long. Whatever the reason may be, it's really a small gripe and when looking at the entire film can be easily overlooked.

Overall, I thought Hell's Ground was a very fun movie. Maybe it wasn't the most original film in the world, but the location alone sets it apart from the rest of the bunch, and gives audiences a chance to meet a knew iconic killer that you just wouldn't see coming out of the US. You can tell that khan is definitely a fan of the horror genre, and has been studying these films for years. Originally banned in his home country, the overseas success of this film allowed him to finally get it played in Pakistani theaters where it stayed for several months. If that isn't a clear indication of how good this film was, I don't know what is. I'm not sure who to recommend this to, as it doesn't sit firmly in any specific horror sub-genre. I guess if you're just a plain old horror fan, give it a shot. A mace wielding serial killer, gore, dwarf zombies. Oh yeah, this is a must-see.

7/10.
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