Review: WEST OF HELL (2018)

WEST OF HELL

Michael Steves made a bit of a splash with his debut feature the horror/rom-com hybrid CLINGER, a twisted tale of first love, love so deep even death couldn’t end it. Now he’s back with another genre-bending film WEST OF HELL, which as you may guess from the title is a supernatural Western.

Jericho Whitfield (Tony Todd CANDYMAN, THE DEBT COLLECTOR) is a former slave who’s daughter was scalped and killed by his former owner. He’s since killed and scalped forty-eight slave owners and their next of kin in revenge. Now he’s tracked Annie (Jennifer Laporte) the man’s daughter to a late train to Atlanta. All that stands between him and revenge is Roland Bursley (Michael Eklund THE DIVIDE, ERRORS OF THE HUMAN BODY) a former Confederate officer hired to protect her.

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But that’s actually the least of his problems. Because there’s something much more dangerous than either man on this train. And it’s destination maybe somewhere a lot hotter than Atlanta.

It’s nice to see Tony Todd actually star in something he has top billing on. He’s a talented actor but too often just turns up for a quick cameo, this time he deserves his billing. Sadly, pretty much everything else about WEST OF HELL sucks. The plot is cliched as, well, cliched as hell. A small group of passengers all with dark secrets are the only ones on board. One is, of course, a priest (Yousef Abu-Taleb) with a weakness for sins of the flesh. The rest are all fairly tame sins, nothing to attract direct infernal intervention.

This could be overlooked if the film did anything with the plot. Instead, everyone snarls and bickers at each other until they reach Hell. Hell itself isn’t even interesting, all darkness with annoying whispering in the distance. Eventually, a demon turns up to play silly games with them as he sorts out their souls. Then Satan (Lance Henriksen NEAR DARK, MOM AND DAD) turns up and things still don’t get interesting.

There are almost no effects apart from brief flashes of gore when people meet their fate. Honestly, the scariest thing about this film is that it took four people to write it. Watching WEST OF HELL is like suffering the torments of the damned, the damned bored.

Jim Morazzini

Movie buff, gym rat and crazy cat guy