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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Gehenna: Where Death Lives (2016)

So, when I saw that Lance Henriksen and Doug Jones were the top billed stars of this movie I immediately thought to myself that someone was cashing a paycheck. Especially Henriksen who has made a career out of showing up for a few minutes to get paid. That annoys the heck out of me, and I don’t know why so many filmmakers think that his name is going to sell the movie. We fans have figured this out. Spoiler alert Henriksen only shows up on the other side of a phone call for maybe ninety seconds in the first five minutes and that is it. So, I was already not pleased with Gehenna: Where Death Lives. Though Jones has more to do, albeit buried under a ton of makeup.

The movie follows a group of some corporate bigwigs and their guides as they check out property on the island of Saipan with the possibility of building a resort. Right away we meet the locals and hear the stories of it being sacred land and that they shouldn’t desecrate it. At that point most rational people would turn tail and locate somewhere else to build. Instead this group finds a creepy underground complex left over from the Second World War and decides, ‘hey let’s check this out’. Do I have to tell you that choice doesn’t end well? Not only is the ground sacred, but it also is home to ghosts and some sort of evil spirit from a couple hundred years earlier when a European angered the local tribes a bit. This is a bad place, a very bad place.

Be warned that I’m going to have spoilers in my review. I can’t really tell you about the best parts of the movie without them and yes there is some good stuff here. As much as I didn’t want to like Gehenna: Where Death Lives it does have moments where it is fun. The underground bunker setting is spooky and leads to many scares. The place is testing/torturing our characters by haunting them with the choices they have made and the people they lost in their past. This makes for some creepy drowned kid and torso twisted dead sister action that looks decent. The evil forces also turn more than one of them against the others and has them do its dirty work.

Doing his five minutes work.
This is typical stuff that most of us have seen already in other ghost movies. The twist here is that they travel back in time to when the tunnels were being shelled by the Americans during World War II. This has them meeting up with the Japanese survivor who then gives them some insight to what happened, as it was them who released the evil. Now we have characters who aren’t just trapped underground but are also lost in time. How does that work, and can they return home? Well the answer is sort of. I can’t really say much more than that without ruining the movie. This is a flick that is all about the big twist, so I don’t want to do that.

Do I recommend Gehenna? This is the kind of movie that you want to rent or wait to show up on a streaming service. It is a fun watch once, but once the big twist is revealed and the fate of the characters shown I can’t imagine it holding anyone’s interest a second time. I picked up a used copy of the movie from my local rental store for five bucks and am planning on passing it along to a friend. In the end I’d say this was a decent flick but nothing special.

© Copyright 2020 John Shatzer

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