4 guys kidnap random people from the street, take them to a remote forest and give them 3 choices: run away, kill us or die. The film follows the fate of one of their victims. That's the plot, if one can really call it such.
DOWN TO HELL is generally known as the "Prequel" to Ryuhei Kitamura's classic film VERSUS, though since it was made 4 years earlier it's more proper to say that VERSUS is the sequel to down to hell. The relationship is more like that between EL MARIACHI and DESPERADO though, except DOWN TO HELL has none of the artistic merit that EL MARIACHI does
The film is basically a 45 minute short shot on video by a group of friends in a wood. The budget was basically "bring your own blood packs guys", and it can't have taken more than a day or two to film. If you thought VERSUS was low budget, DOWN TO HELL will recalibrate your scale.
Ryuhei Kitamura is currently shooting scenes for VERSUS 1.5. Given this trend, we might consider DOWN TO HELL to be VERSUS 0.1. It's like VERSUS with no kung fu, no gunplay, no wirework, no characterisation, minimal plot, comically crude gore and only a fraction of the style and wit. How Kitamura managed to get financing for VERSUS on the strength of DOWN TO HELL I don't know, as it shows little of the potential he evidently had hiding inside of him.
It seems hardly fair to criticise a film made in the conditions of DOWN TO HELL for any of the above things though - taken as a bunch of friends spending a couple of days in a wood with a video camera, it's quite a fun experience. Nothing like the adrenalin fix of VERSUS though, and make absolutely no mistake - if it weren't for the success of VERSUS there's no way anybody would be watching DOWN TO HELL now.
If you're a fan of VERSUS, it's worth picking up DOWN TO HELL just to see some of the backstory, and the genesis of the ideas that Kitamura would take so much further in later years. It's value is only as a curio though.
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