A family's apartment is invaded in the middle of the night, while neither their lives nor their valuables are taken -- instead, they're given a grim glimpse at how alone they are when a dozen neighbors did nothing to help them.
Written By: Nicholas Begnaud
Directed By: Robert Bryce Milburn
Disturbing would be an understatement for the feeling I got when I watched American Hell. The sheer violent randomness in this short is enough to make anyone queezy. It's also great nail biting entertainment. Director Robert Bryce Milburn knows how to make a short that's both engaging and scary. The fact that this is actually a scene from a larger version really raises my interest in the upcoming film. That fact is completely undeniable.
Shot using a Super 16mm camera American Hell not only features an interesting premise, but also visually hits all the marks for this type of production. A certain grit exists that creates both a great atmosphere, and a sinister world in which these characters live. The mix of standard shots alongside moving/quick cuts keeps the action going as the story plays itself out. In itself, the plot doesn't attempt to explain much of what's happening, which is half of what makes it so great. Random acts of violence played out before your very eyes. Knowing that this is part of a larger production is the only tip that an actual story is in the works here. Let me be clear though. American Hell stands on it's own as a short film.
The pacing and editing were done well and kept things moving along at breakneck speed as was the audio. No complaints, the mix was put together nicely. I particularly loved the song thrown in as it fit perfectly with the onscreen action. Some care was obviously put into the post production... and it shows. The cast all give off great performances in American Hell. A special note should be made that the lead baddie, Hannah Fierman came across as completely over the top. You may think that would take away from the film but in reality, her performance added the perfect amount of crazy to the production. Mark Ashworth also flexes his acting chops with a great performance that really pulls you into the horror he must have been faced with. All in all we have no slouches here. Great job all around.
On a subliminal level American Hell reminded me a lot of the Rob Zombie film "The Devils Rejects" by way of the feeling I had while watching. Not a good one. That is the point of a good horror flick though, to bring to the surface feelings you wouldn't want to experience... unless it is during a film. We have a great short here that will appeal to the hard core and casual genre lovers alike. It's also a good heads up on a future production from Mr. Milburn. One that is sure to please.
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