Slamdance Film Festival Review: If There’s a Hell Below

Slamdance Film Festival Review: If There’s a Hell Below

Director Nathan Williams conveys a captivating and puzzling narrative in If There’s A Hell Below

If There’s a Hell Below is an intriguing film that follows a young ambitious journalist name Abe, played by Conner Marx, working on a career defining story with some obvious risks. His potential big break hinges on the top secret intelligence of his sketchy source, Debra, depicted by Carol Rosco. Debra claims to work in National Security and has ultra sensitive information she is willing to share. Following a strange and eerie introduction, Abe attempts to get straight to the point and begin gathering all that Debra has to tell, however understandingly so, Debra is reluctant. At this point in the film, I’m really beginning to wonder about Debra’s true intent and trustworthiness, and in all honesty I’m still thoroughly confused at to whether her character was good or evil. 

We proceed through the film stuck in a sandwich between intensity and suspense, and ultimately resolve at a point of completion, without a true ending. The film chooses to leave you in a state of flux, requiring you to interpret the outcome of this feature, with the only information provided is the knowledge of one death, and an interesting story about a man and his turtle(which I quite enjoyed). This is decidedly my favorite element to the film, as I thoroughly enjoy a film that can make you think, and thinking I was, and still am. I found myself asking various questions internally throughout the rest of the day, attempting to work out this suspenseful equation in my head. It certainly isn’t an easy feat to leave a longstanding impression on my mind, as unfortunately most films are grossly predictable.  

Director Williams executes If There’s a Hell Below with great skill, and the screenplay itself is both unique and complex, kudos to both Nathan and Matthew Williams in that regard. The roles played by Marx and Roscoe are interesting enough and adequately performed, but don’t allot a profound impact on the film. Cinematography was another ingredient of this film that was certainly up to par, but certainly nothing awe-inspiring. I don’t say this out of distaste for these aspects of the movie, they simply didn’t stand out against the convoluted and elaborate screenplay.

If There’s a Hell Below has all the necessary components to make a good film, and adds in that extra kick of suspense and complexity that made me really enjoy the film. With as much as I appreciated this feature, it would be unfair to my readers if I neglected to mention how maddening it is that details of the coveted information was absent in this narrative. I would have preferred at the very least a hint or some subtle assertion as to what would have been impacted by this precious information. This feature reminds of plots like Lost or even perhaps Inception, not in the story itself, but in the sense that the audience will have vast differences in their interpretations of this movie.  If There’s a Hell Below will provide you with much to revel in, and a large array of questions to occupy your mind for an extended period of time.

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