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Josh's review of Gehenna: Where Death Lives

Reviewer's note: The movie Gehenna: Where Death Lives, is not a sequel to the 2015, Gehenna: Darkness Unleashed.

Gehenna: Where Death Lives, Starring: Doug Jones, Lance Henriksen, Eva Swan, Sean Sprawling, Simon Phillips, Justin Gordon, and Masashi Odate.

Directed by: Hiroshi Katagiri

Release date: May 4, 2018.

Gehenna: Where Death Lives, marks the feature film directorial debut Hiroshi Katagiri. Katagiri started out his career in Hollywood as special effects artist, working in Stan Winston's Studio on such movies as the original Jurassic Park. After a nearly thirty year career working on other people's movies, Katagiri takes the helm on an original horror that he co-wrote. The result is Gehenna: Where Death Lives.

Set in modern-day Saipan, Gehenna: Where Death Lives opens with a man being sacrificed on an alter and having his face removed. In the next scene, we meet a group of developers who want to build a new resort on a beach in Saipan. The local peoples on the island don't want the resort built on that particular beach, because it's supposed to be cursed after a cruel king was buried there, but his wife was buried elsewhere.

While exploring the land, the developers come across a bunker the Japanese occupiers built during World War II. As the group investigates the bunker, an explosion goes off and the group finds themselves somehow transported back to World War II and trapped in the bunker with some Japanese soldiers who also can't escape.

One thing I find very clever about this movie is how Katagiri has chosen to use more mature characters. Usually in movies like this, the plot usually centers around younger characters who both adventurous and foolish for going on such a misadventure. With these characters, it makes more sense why they'd be visiting that particular site.

Sean Sprawling is also fun to watch. His goofy sidekick character, Pepe, is both believable and reminds the audience of other such characters the golden age of horror movies when character actors like Napoleon Simpson and Julius Tannen. Their performances were every bit as memorable as Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney Jr.. Sprawling is good company.

While the music scoring and the cinematography could have used more work. The bunker just doesn't have that same claustrophobic feel as movies like As Below, So Above (2014) or The Bunker (2001). But the story is engaging and the actors each give s good performance.

All and all, not a bad first outing for Hiroshi Katagiri. I look forward to his next project.

Overall grade. B+

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