Hands of Hell (2023) Review
I almost rented Hands of Hell a few days ago, but the pile of obviously fake ten out of ten reviews on IMDB convinced me to pick something else. But then Andrew Evans who directed the film with star and writer Gianna Lutz offered me a screener. That’s the kind of coincidence I can’t ignore, so I decided to give it a look.
Hands of Hell is the story of Bianca (Gianna Lutz, Exception to the Rule, Kindness to Others) and Zeke (Adam Kitchen, Dead Don’t Die in Dallas, Friend Hunter). They’re young, in love, and kill people. And they’re anxious to get back to it after escaping from custody, much to the dismay of the couple who own the Huxley Bay Marina.
Bianca seems a bit surprised the next morning when guests start showing up, but it doesn’t take them long to see the advantages of turning the marina into their own private hunting preserve stocked with the three couples, Marcus (Hondo Tey, Bitch Perfect, Pop Star High) and Brett (Antonio Neville, 2 Flew West), Stacy (Arianna Camacho Mcpike), Erica (Abby Anderson) and their boyfriends Blake (Brady Box, Incantation, Hyde) and Dylan (Chase Walker, A Day to Die, Final Curtain Part 23 – Mardi Gras Massacre).
Plotwise Hands of Hell is nothing groundbreaking. A backwoods inn run by a psychotic killer has been a genre staple at least since Psycho and on through Motel Hell to Hostel and the current rash of AirBNB nightmares like Superhost. Making the killers a Mickey and Mallory style couple is a nice twist but that’s about it for originality. Everything else in Hands of Hell is standard issue. Couples with issues, some infidelity that ends very badly, a sheriff (Woody Wilson Hall, Virgin Cheerleaders in Chains, Grandma’s House) whose arrogance is his undoing, etc.
I did appreciate that they paced the film better than a lot of low-budget efforts and didn’t save all the kills for the last few minutes. The missing victims also gave the others a reason to stick around despite the fact Bianca and Zeke were obviously a few rooms short of a full house. The level of their craziness ends up being one of Hands of Hell’s bigger problems though. It’s established early on that they’re extremely sadistic and get turned on by torturing and killing their victims.
That had me expecting a fairly nasty and sleazy film. But, probably due to the budget, most of the kills happen just out of the camera’s view and all we get is blood and some occasionally effective sound effects. Similarly, they never do more than kiss on camera. If you’re going to make things like that a plot point, you need to deliver a bit more than offscreen kills and somebody in a towel if you don’t want people to feel cheated. The couple of effects we do get are okay, although the impalement scene seemed as improbable as it did painful.
Despite its flaws, Hands of Hell does have several decent moments and the final scenes in the auto graveyard do work up a bit of suspense thanks to some nice work from cinematographer Justin Montgomery (The Good Catholic, Just Tell Her) and the fact they got rid of the fog filter that gives so many scenes, even interior ones, an odd, hazy look.
Cap it off with a somewhat surprising ending and you have a film that falls somewhere in the watchable range. Whether that is enough to justify it is up to you, but if you’re looking for a new slasher you could do worse than give it a chance.
Hands of Hell is available on Digital Platforms. You can check its Facebook page for more information.