From Bartosz M. Kowalski and Mirella Zaradkiewicz, creators of “Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight,” here is yet another Polish horror film, “Hellhole” (org. title Ostatnia wieczerza). Set in 1987 Poland, the film follows a police detective who while investigating inexplicable disappearances infiltrates a rural monastery – and discovers a disturbing truth about its clerics.
“Hellhole,” which is now available on Netflix, is worth watching for its scary premise and excellent performances by the key actors. While the film begins as a normal horror film with exorcism, religion, and discourse of God prevailing over the devil, it draws its core eeriness from balancing worldly and supernatural elements.
“Hellhole” – Storyline
“Hellhole” begins in 1957, when a priest very strangely brings a baby inside the church and raises a dagger to murder the child after begging God to kill this evil seed. In the next moment, before he could kill the baby, the police arrive and shot the priest down. Three decades later, that child, now a grownup named Father Marek (Piotr Zurawski) disguised as an exorcist, arrives in an isolated Polish Catholic church to assist other priests. In reality, Marek is a police officer who is looking into the mysterious disappearances and deaths of local women. The film “Hellhole” then takes us through several strange revelations when Marek’s identity is revealed and he is considered “the chosen one” who will be transformed into the demon on earth, but only if the rest of the priests capture him, perform a ritual after killing a slew of innocent women, consume them, and drink their blood. All these odd beliefs are predicated on the simple premise that the devil and God coexist, and that the world will be a better place if everything goes according to the priests’ plans. However, in the end, it appears that evil has triumphed.
“Hellhole” – Movie Review
Bartosz M. Kowalski, the film’s director, cleverly established an atmosphere of terror, uncertainty, and the chance of encountering the unknown. “Hellhole” delves into the religious concept of God and the devil coexisting and successfully carries that idea all the way to the end, but it also touches on church authority, the possibility of the highest clerics being involved in pedophilic sexual exploitation, and some bizarre religious rituals.
The direction was tight, and some of the sequences enhanced the entire narration by creatively maintaining the suspenseful atmosphere till the very end. When we think we’ve solved the mystery, something new appears to heighten the tension; yet again, the climactic twist is unique and impactful.
In terms of characterization, the lead actor Piotr Zurawski as Marek is great since he was immersed in the character, making the entire experience believable in a creepy setting. However, Olaf Lubaszenko as Prior Andrzej, who has a lot of darkness to hide, could have done a better job. His nature is complex, but the malicious intent was clear on his face from the start. Furthermore, a character like Piotr (played by Sebastian Stankiewicz) is really well-written, with unpredictability at its core; we don’t know when he will switch from friend to foe.
Overall, “Hellhole” is unpredictable, with enough tension and intense events, but also highly unsettling, with the utilization of bizarre rituals and the thought that our religious beliefs might go so far as to commit crimes. It is hardly surprising, however, given that worse crimes are perpetrated by people linked with faiths.
“Hellhole” – Movie Credits
Genre: Horror, Supernatural
Directed by Bartosz M. Kowalski
Screenplay by Bartosz M. Kowalski, Mirella Zaradkiewicz
Cast: Piotr Żurawski, Olaf Lubaszenko, Sebastian Stankiewicz, Lech Dyblik, Rafał Iwaniuk, Krzysztof Satała, Malwina Dubowska, and Zbigniew Waleryś.
Cinematography: Cezary Stolecki
Edited by Jakub Kopec
Music by Carl-Johan Sevedag
Release date: October 26, 2022 (on Netflix)