FRESH HELL (REVIEW)
Dir. Ryan Imhoff, Matt Neal
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
Covid. Social political unrest. All day zoom contact. Social distancing. What FRESH HELL is this? Directors Ryan Imhoff and Matt Neal put onto screen what everyone has felt and created a visceral and demanding entry into the screengrab genre of horror.
What HOST managed to pull of in 2020, FRESH HELL adds onto and expands exponentially into something that can only be defined by it's title. At times unsettling, others just terrifying to the bone, there is no denying that this small independent film does more for the horror genre than most big studio releases.
FRESH HELL's nature may not appeal to most. It's graphic, nauseating and most of all terrifying for people who aren't easily scared. For those who like their horror as an experience rather than entertainment, this is the ultimate rollercoaster of terror. As if there was a way of experience the madness and depravity of McKamey Manor. The social dynamic between a group of old friends becomes the centralisation of a zoom call that is overtaken by a mysterious stranger who begins to transcend a journey into hell for the victims on the call.
The visual style plays well not only to the film's budget limitations but excels into a realm of claustrophobia that, despite being able to leave, keeps viewers glued to the screen just like the call's participants. Using the best of mixed media, the Stranger gives a transcendence from screen to real horror with his victims deaths played out in horrific, yet sometimes intentionally comic ways that extend the horror beyond anything we've seen before. This is to date still the only film with a death via Snapchat and I'm sure it will be the last.
With the likes of UNFRIENDED and HOST, already showing how great screengrab horror can be, it's easy to see how FRESH HELL can get lost on the scrapheap and with it's strong reminders of Covid in a post pandemic world, it's a strangely outdated yet symbolic film of an era that has shown there is no constraint to an ever evolving world of storytelling. Fortunately, FRESH HELL is a golden ticket to sheer terror and a journey you won't want to get off.