Directed by Foster Vernon Starring Justin Andrew Davis, Steven Trollinger, Leslie Lynn Meeker, and Timothy J. Cox Short Film Review by Sarah Smeaton
Described as a ‘dark comedy’, Hell-Bent, although not really altogether that dark, is a hilarious and satirical short film that will have you laughing from start to finish. It’s a simple plot of main character, Michael (Justin Andrew Davis), looking for inspiration to create a ground-breaking article in order to get himself a promotion, and finding something far more extraordinary along the way. In fact the story falls into his lap at the very start, which would have been all too convenient if it hadn’t have been so funny. Just as we’re set up for another cringe worthy paranormal scarefest, there’s an interjection of, “Oh yeah, that’s my summoning circle, sweetie.” And instantly, we have the opening workings of comedy gold from writers Shayne Kamat and Lorenzo Cabello.
Bringing a touch of realism to the paranormal genre, the mundane approach has managed to create an original piece of work here in a very overcrowded market. Think Elf, but more devilish, far more obnoxious and less child-friendly. Now that might sound like an insult, and in some ways it is, but it just works for this film. Ricky, played by Steven Trollinger in his acting debut, is everything a good devil should be; rude to the point of absurdity and self-centred to the very core.
Particular mention must go to all the actors actually, as for the majority this is their first noteworthy foray into acting, apart from Timothy J. Cox (playing the brash Mr. Bowers) who is certainly a well-seasoned performer. With such a high proportion of debuting actors, though, I would have expected more slip-ups and less believability from the characters, but I was with this film every step of the way. Even when the ever so sweet ‘elderly’ secretary, Agatha (Leslie Lynn Meeker) adopts a laughably deep and dark demon voice to summon her friend Ricky from the underworld.
What’s so refreshing about Hell-Bent, is that at no time does it try to take itself seriously. That being said the aesthetics and production was most certainly taken seriously, as the movement between scenes is seamless throughout. The combination of the two, will have you forgetting that we don’t actually coexist on this Earth with the devil and demon worshippers. And when you come to the end, you might wish we did.
A light-hearted and timeless film, Hell-Bent is definitely worth a watch.