New this week on BluRay/DVD from Unearthed Films!
Directed by Vincenzo Petrarolo
Written by Davide Chiara
Starring Ruggero Deodato, Vincenzo Petrarolo, Federico Palmieri, Marcus J. Cotterell, Sebastiano Lo Monaco, Manuela Stanciu, Dani Samvis, Joelle Rigollet, Elena Croce, Danilo Maria Valli, Mattia Rinaldi
Reviewed by M. L. Miller aka Ambush Bug
Though there are some iffy acting and some mighty leaps in accepting some fucked up shit happening, LILITH’S HELL turns out to be a pretty entertaining found footager with a deep respect for one of the genre’s founders, Ruggero Deodato (who even makes a few appearances at the beginning and the end). Let’s see how this Italian made, yet mostly American speaking film stacks up to my found footage questionnaire.
What’s it about?
CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST director Ruggero Deodato warns the viewer at the very beginning of this film that he thought he was getting ready to make a cameo in a low budget film as a favor to the filmmakers, but had no idea when he did his set visit that it would be a descent into hell. A producer who just wants to get laid, a cameraman who wants to catch all of the action in front of and behind the scenes, and a passionate director who insists his cannibal found footager is not a horror movie converge onto an old house in the middle of nowhere. Though the house looks pretty clean and modern, the producer insists that it is the site of weird and macabre happenings. When the lead actress and her makeup artist shows up early, the crew is thrilled hoping that the night before shooting will be filled with sex and party-time, but soon the women become overcome with savage and brutal urges—attacking the men with utter ruthlessness. Turns out the house is a site where a ritual to evoke the demon Lilith, who has a pretty big hatred towards men and is willing to possess any woman in order to unleash her fury. The camera keeps rolling to capture the gory and possession-heavy terrors as they occur.
Are the actors successfully acting like they aren’t acting?
This is iffy. I don’t know if it is the fact that most of the cast are speaking English, but of Italian origin that lead to some of the more unconvincing performances or if it is just me being the ugly American and not being able to read the subtitles and see if the actors are acting well at the same time. Or it might just have been the dialog or the translation of the dialog that felt a bit uninspired and in need of another editorial pass. Either way, the convincability of the actors involved is spotty during the slow scenes. It gets better when the cast relies on being petrified and panicked when the supernatural shit happens, but even then, the actors simply scream at what’s happening and then look at the camera and then back again at the creepy monster shit happening. The cast’s reaction to the horrors as they unfold is surprisingly put together during the most frantic of bits solely to push the story along and it’s so evident that it made them rather unbelievable. I wish the whole thing would have been filmed in Italian because I think the performances would have been a bit more natural.
Does is seem like this footage was actually found and not untouched by additional production (which means there is no omniscient editor making multiple edits or an invisible orchestra providing music)?
As for authenticity, yeah, this film is made as if it was real footage found and laced together to make a mock-documentary about it. Apart from the opening sequence and some scenes edited together by combining the footage from video cameras and hand held cams, the look and feel of this film is legit. The film also incorporates some pretty amazing special effects with no CG. The practical effects are highlighted by some disorienting night vision scenes, making the whole thing a lot creepier.
Is there a valid reason the camera isn’t dropped and they just get the hell out of there?
I guess there is a twinge of narcissistic assholism that keeps the guys rolling the camera even thought they are dropping like flies. Maybe habit. Either way, once the action starts, there’s no reason why they needed to keep filming, but the action moved so quickly that I didn’t really have time to wonder why the camera is still rolling.
Is the lead in too long and the payoff too short?
There’s about a half hour lead in where we get to know the crew, the surroundings, and we get to understand how much of a trainwreck this production truly is before it all goes demonic. This portion is made fun because of how idiotic the filmmakers really are as the producer pumps up in the gym in his dress clothes before company arrives and the director hems and haws about wanting to make a legit film. There is a lot of fun tongue and cheekiness in these initial moments that kept me from becoming bored.
Is there an up-nose BLAIR WITCH confessional or a REC-drag away from the camera?
Nope and thank god, it seems these clichés are finally being put to rest. Though the filmmakers say they want to make a mockumentary like CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, they end up making a pretty straight forward found footage film, sans the clichés that bog those films down.
Does anything actually happen? Does the film add anything to the subgenre and is this one worth watching?
I’d say yes. LILITH’S HELL is a fun little descent into the depths. There are some gory and grisly visuals as the ladies in the film become possessed by an ancient Sumerian demon bent on killing all men. I like the way the film starts out with the intention to make one kind of horror movie (a cannibal mockumentary), yet it ends up being something entirely different (a possession found footager). The film even manages to have an exorcism scene that doesn’t feel cliched because of the staging of the events and the outcome of said ritual. Plus how can you not appreciate an appearance by Deodato himself? LILITH’S HELL may have some rough edges brought on by the Italian filmmakers making an English speaking film, but it does deliver in gore, scares, and an exciting story.