The Blair Witch Project by way of “Prison Break” with Corman’s make-up team, imaginative genre pic Hell’s Half Acre contemporises a rather worn format – much like Radio Silence’s Scream (2022) did – by incorporating dyed-in-the-wool sub-genre tropes with modern-day technology.
The swift spooker sees a a group of YouTubers headed into an old abandoned Prison – not unlike real bloggers who also explore potentially spooky abandoned locations (google ‘abandoned theme parks’!) – where they find much more than some rusty bars and cracked tiles. There’s a reason Tango & Cash aren’t housed in this reform center for crooks, it’s populated by demons that look like they’ve crawled out of a Return of the Living Dead fan sequel.
The fresh cast work well with material, giving naturalistic performances as the frazzled new-media troupe, but it’s those behind the camera – including music by a death metal band called VORE- who make more of an impression. This will be a good showreel for some budding careers.
Director John Patrick Tomasek’s pic is more admirable than an accomplished, stupendous watch but it does highlight the work of a promising up-and-coming filmmaker who’ll be worth keeping an eye on in future years.