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Beyond Hell (2019) Review

Beyond Hell opens with a nameless man running through the woods, chased by oddly dressed men in body paint. He arrives in the clearing just in time to see the group’s leader sacrifice his girlfriend. However, Belial (Gavin R. Downes) the demon they worship has a job for him.

Cut to the Canadian suburbs pretending to be the American suburbs and what appears to be a music video complete with dancing stuffed animals. It’s just Maryssa (Kearsten Johansson) on her way to school. It’s Friday and all she and her friends can think about is the party Seth (Sean Rey, Rev, Bad Dose) is throwing to celebrate his return from South America.

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And yes, Seth is the guy from the prologue, now looking like Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean. And he has a treat for his friends, he’s brought back a supply of a ritual drug called Changa for them to try. Maryssa takes one hit and starts hallucinating. When he goes looking for her, Seth is killed by Belial. He won’t be the last one to die.

Until Seth says he just got back from South America, I thought the film’s prologue took place somewhere in North America. It looks like a typical forest, not a rain forest. And most of the “tribesmen” are obviously white guys, some with obviously professional tattoos. That doesn’t exactly help the film’s credibility.

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Writer/director Alan Murray was obviously working with a shoestring budget, and I want to cut him some slack. But he should have been able to realize he didn’t have the resources to film this cross between Altered States and A Nightmare on Elm Street properly. What budget there was seems to have gone on the demon’s costume.

Maryssa’s friends begin to experience hallucinations of their own before being killed by Belial. For example, football star Tyson (Chris Kapeleris, The Haunted House on Kirby Road) sees himself in uniform and hears an unseen crowd cheering. Then Belial and some topless cheerleaders turn up and tear him to pieces off camera. Another hallucination involves arms reaching out of a wall. The CGI is abysmal to the point that a couple of them seem to be floating in front of it instead.

Beyond Hell ends up in Hell, which looks a lot like a quarry or ravine and maybe a small cave. We do see a couple of strange-looking demons, but that’s it. No legions of damned souls, lakes of fire or anything really. Actually, I shouldn’t say it ends up there. We do come back to Earth for a longish, stock footage filled epilogue that seems to be there to stretch the film out to 90 minutes. And threaten us with a sequel.

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This could have been a somewhat diverting film, but a lack of budget and a bland script do Beyond Hell in. Some actors in smaller roles that sound like they’re reading from cue cards just add insult to injury.

Beyond Hell is available to stream. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more details.

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