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Family is the source of all evil, in this aspiring horror film which traces its descent from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre gore and the atmospheric Hammer films. Chiyo, an old woman and her granddaughter, Yuki, are the sole survivors of a horrendous crime which wipes out an entire family. They find solace under the roof of far-removed relatives. The family's son, confined to a wheelchair, has a terrible premonition when the two women arrive, which will be verified in the most horrifying way. Because, when the house is empty, the boy is made to suffer sadistic games at the women mercy, which become more and more violent making his life a living hell... Written by
Yasu (Hurorito Honda) is a troubled twenty-two year old who is confined to a wheelchair due to some sort of anxiety, which has taken over his body. The young man lives with his father, sister and brother but soon two new relatives show up at the house. Chiyo, a senile older woman and her granddaughter strike the young boy as being a bit weird but soon he realizes that they are a lot more than that. Within days of moving in the two women start torturing the boy but no one in the family will believe him because they think this is just an act to get more attention. With no one to believe him Yasu is trapped in the house with the women who go all out to serve their deadly plans.
I went into Living Hell with high expectations but in the end I found myself checking my clock way too much to totally enjoy the film. There are many wonderful ideas floating around in the film but in the end we're left with a pretty empty film without any characters to root for and an ending that's so over the top and ripped from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre that the eeriness the director tries for went way over my head.
The first thirty minutes really kills the film with its boring introduction to the new family, which will soon be stalked by the crazy grandmother and granddaughter. We first see the family gathered around the breakfast table arguing about the new guests that are about to arrive. All this fighting is so incredibly annoying that within minutes you'll be wishing they'd get knocked off right then and there. Also in this time we never really get to know any of the family members, especially the paralyzed boy who is supposed to be the guy we're rooting for throughout the film. What we do get to see of him doesn't make us care too much for him and the wooden performance by Hirohito Honda doesn't help mattes either.
Without anyone to care for I really had a hard time getting into the actual torturing that goes on. I'm quite certain the director wants us to cheer for our young hero yet since he never bothered to let us get to know him then we're left without any real emotions going throughout the film. Another incredibly boring and pointless plot line has a local detective trying to track down the grandmother but this here turns out to be nothing more than filler, which adds an extras thirty-minutes to the running time and doesn't offer us anything interesting. Even without a likable character I was hoping the violence would push this into the entertainment level but that didn't happen either.
I think the film tries to appear a lot meaner than it actually is. Perhaps I'm just a little too jaded but the violence here wasn't really anything we haven't seen before and if you've seen any horror films from Italy then I highly doubt you'll be shocked by this film. In the torture department we see teeth being pulled out, heads beaten with hammers, the young boy used as a dart board and to top it all off we even get to see his private area soaked with water only to have a stun gun put to test. None of this is done overly graphic and the director makes a mistake by keeping the film a bit too clean. With such films like Organ and Men Behind the Sun I'm really not sure what the point of this cleanness was. Perhaps budget problems? Director Shugo Fujii adds some nice touches here and there but the bad editing and constant blackouts really start to get annoying very quickly. The director does a wonderful job trying to set up a doomed atmosphere, which is nicely brought to life by the way the film is lit. Most of the scenes take place with light only coming through windows while other scenes are merely lit by candles. Another nice addition are some wickedly creepy sound effects that come into play throughout the movie. Living Hell is worth a viewing but I can't help but feel it should have been a lot better.
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