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Iain P.F. McDonald,
Six ex-classmates decide to spend some holidays together. To enjoy a short rest period and some amusement, they rent a manor house in the countryside, upon where to forget the raving madness of the city life. After they get to know the priest living in the adjoining church, the group moves into the house. Very soon, the convivial mood progressively deteriorates, while in the house strange phenomena start to happen, apparently paranormal. The journey turns into a nightmare when Giorgio, one of the mates, starts to have aberrant behaviors, until he shows evident signs of what properly seems a diabolic possession. While Alessandro, his best friend, tries to find a scientific and rational explanation to the happenings, the other friends trust in Father Elia, the priest. He feels Giorgio is surely possessed by the devil, and tries to exorcise him. But in the end, all the people will figure out that what is happening goes over their ability to understand, and moreover, their possibility to ... Written by
This is an Italian film that has been released in the U.S with the title Back From Hell. It's yet another film to join the lineup of hand-held camera, found-footage style productions saturating the horror genre today after a decade of heavy exploitation. As such, we sort of know what to expect. There is lackluster sound, bizarre edits, some poorly lit scenes, and CGI is absent (a relief for some). It's all "par for the course". D for Style.
As far as demon possession tales go, this one is somewhat more interesting than the others. There are no spinning heads, reverse crab walks, flying crucifixes, ceiling crawls, nor holy water boiling. Events following the groups discussion on the origin of religion make one question if things may make a turn towards Sci-Fi. Each time something paranormal presents itself in the film, the camera begins to malfunction, and sometimes cuts to the next scene. We hear that the camera is being affected by these manifestations, and it drains the cameras battery (hence the untimely cut). This is a true and common occurrence in real-life paranormal investigations. Entities can draw energy from electronic devices such as cameras, phones and recorders causing them to fail or malfunction. It is to the director/writers credit that this fact was included, and he used it to cinematic advantage. B- for Originality.
There's much religious subject matter within the film. One of the characters contends that religion is the result of primitive man attempting to make sense of strange events, and suggests that aliens may be responsible. Another character believes that all things can be explained scientifically, but there are some things we aren't knowledgeable enough to understand yet. Each character has a differing point of view, and their discussion invites the audience to think rather than just observe. There's no pulpit here, just some debate and theory. C+ for Substance.
Most of the cast does a fairly decent acting job, and particularly so as new performers. It is not without moments of camp and shortcomings though. C- Acting.
The location was brilliant, I couldn't imagine a more perfect set. It manages to be beautifully striking, and at the same time creepy and imposing. A+ Set
I was unhappy with the ending, I felt that it was too vague and did a disservice to the rest of the film. There are countless ways in which it could have been improved. It's as though the writer became bored after the climatic points, and wanted to wrap things up quickly. The film wrapped in such a way that it could easily have a followup, I would definitely love to see a part 2 that brought the sci-fi possibility into fruition!
Leonardo Araneo, the writer and director of this film, was unknown until now. He has made a promising debut.
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