February is upon us and it’s time for a look at another of those hard to find horror goodies that your Favorite Catgirl finally managed to track down… 2010’s Turkish ghost story “Cehennem 3D”, the first 3D film ever produced in Turkey. I know… I know… I soooo detest the return of the 3D movie craze with all my lil’ heart and soul, but I do love my ghost stories and it’s been soooo darn long since anything from Turkey made it my way that I just couldn’t pass up the chance to see it.
Our synopsis goes like this: “Ahmet, is a photographer planning to do a fashion shoot on location at a deserted former candle factory. But this factory has an unsavory reputation for strange accidents, and years ago many people died in a terrible fire on the premises which led to its closure. There’s also the disturbing story of a mentally disabled child who allegedly died in that same fire leading to the widespread belief that the building is cursed. As a set for a photo shoot, though, it certainly has atmosphere, as it’s partially destroyed, isolated, dark and sinister. And as Ahmet, along with his wife and assistant Selim, goes ahead with his plans, it leads to terrifying events that no-one could ever have seen coming.”
Well now… that certainly sounds like it just might fit the bill for an evening’s movie watching fun, and the Trailer looks creepy and interesting, so let’s waste no further time shall we it’s time for you all to “Read On” and find out all about it!
I haven’t watched a 3D film on DVD since the Hindi ghost story “Haunted”…. and there’s a very good reason why. It’s a gimmick… and one that, despite all the hoopla about how new advances in digital technology have finally brought this idea to perfection, always shows us how much they really…. really… soooo haven’t. In 3D, a film’s lighting is always made darker… with weird blurring, shadowing, and putrid coloring issues that rob the images of much of their value. It gets worse when you realize, that for the most part, the great majority of these films are still filled with nothing more than a collection of those stupid “throw things at the audience” shots just to be able to smirk and wink at how amazing and clever this all is. I’ve never once seen it used for anything but eye wrenching, headache inducing, nauseating cinema torture. I’ve said it here at the Litterbox before… please…. just cut this out. Do all us movie fans a favor…. Take this 3D fad out in the alley… shoot it in the head… stuff it in a trunk, drive it out to the lonely “Cornfield of Dumb Ideas” ,and bury it in a shallow grave once and for all. Seriously….. Then drive a stake through it’s heart and stuff it’s mouth with garlic just to be absolutely sure it will never rise again. Or… if you must do it some more… at least have the decency not to release it on DVD in 3D. A truly good film doesn’t need gimmicks…. and a bad film is never made better by using them. I so wish they had done that for “Cehennem”…. I really do.
Well…. with that rant out of the way… exactly how does “Cehennem” fare viewed merely as a horror film? Lets see. It starts out promisingly with a scared guy stumbling around the ruins of our candle factory… begging some invisible thing for his life. He wants more time…. and he’s certain he can find the people it wants… Yep, we’ve all heard that argument before. It never ends well, and it doesn’t this time either as our smoky ghostly thing swoops in and punishes our poor guy but good, burning and smacking him around before finally dragging him away screaming into the darkness never to be seen again. Who the heck was he? We never find out…. but don’t you worry, the story isn’t about that guy… it’s about Ahmet (played by Ogün Kaptanoglu) a freelance photographer, recently remarried and trying to make a name for himself in the industry. He’s got a fashion shoot to do… and wants to really make an impression by finding just the right locale to give the photos that extra special “look” bound to get him noticed by the movers and shakers. Luckily for him… the old abandoned candle factory outside Istanbul where his father once worked is just perfect for his needs.
Naturally… it’s the same ruin we just saw that poor guy meet his untimely end in and you just know that Ahmet’s in for some grief over this choice of locale for sure. Mind you… our hero already has some problems in his life. We find out fairly quickly that he’s recently divorced…. as we meet his ex-wife Esra (played by Pelin Ermiş) at the offices of the very magazine he’s doing the shoot for. There’s some odd vibe there… as she seems nice, and not at all angry with our boy Ahmet, even though she’s confused as to exactly why he left her to marry his new wife Selim. What was their problem? Don’t waste your time wondering too much about it, as it’s never really adequately addressed or explained in any way. Ahhh… and anyway… Ahmet’s moved on, with a new sexy wife Selim (played by Tuğba Melis), a fellow photography student at the University, who he seems crazy in love with. You’d think that would be something he could be happy about, right? Ummmm? Yeah. Seems there’s some problems here too. Her father is supposed to be really pissed off at Ahmet for marrying his daughter… something she did despite his opposition. So she really loves Ahmet that much? Awwwww…. sounds like they have something really special… right? Ummmm… then as our story gets moving along, why is she so cold to him all the time? Not to mention sneaking around behind his back for extramarital sex with any hunky guy who catches her eye? Darned if I know or understand…
Poor stupid Ahmet is clueless to it all… even when she starts an affair with Berk, the male model in his new fashion layout. Mind you… he’s getting a bit distracted by the odd hallucinations and visions that begin to plague him the very afternoon they do the shoot at the factory. From that point forward, he’s constantly trying to shake the grip of the little boy’s spirit as it tries to force him to find his parents…. who, it seems, were the ones who kept him chained as a prisoner in their attic before bringing him to the factory to roast him to death in one of the furnaces there. To get Ahmet to comply, the ghost starts plaguing those around him with the usual nasty ghostly hijinx you might expect. Well… at least it does after it roasts a beggar boy alive who trespasses into the abandoned factory looking for the lunches Ahmet and the rest left behind.
Ahhhhh…. and I have to say I was actually somewhat surprised by the very explicit nude sex scene between Selim and Berk right before our ghost slips in and kills them both in that flaming way it seems to like to kill folks. I can’t ever say I’ve seen anything that…. “Western”…. in a Turkish film before. I mean… they usually like their violence alright, but I’ve always thought nudity and sexuality were always somewhat taboo for films in Islamic Turkey. Perhaps it’s a new trend in Turkish cinema… included more for it’s shock value than anything else. I mean, it does help give the audience a reason to dislike her and almost begs for her to be punished for her causally cruel treatment of her husband…. and if slasher films have taught us nothing, it’s that naughty girls always die horribly as punishment for their sins. Maybe that’s why Turkish censors gave it a pass….. gotta love a “moral” lessons for the masses. 😉
OK then…. it’s pretty clear that our angry spirit wants revenge on his parents. What’s Ahmet to do? Why enlist the help of his plucky ex-wife, Esra in tracking them down. First it’s off to the creepy apartment of a weird Medium to summon up visions of the past, explain the boy’s murder…. delineate the flaming powers of the ghost and how it can see through flames as well as attack with a cloud of choking smoke and cinders. But… where are the boy’s parents now all these years later? Wait a minute? Didn’t Ahmet’s dad work at the factory? Yeah… and once he tells them where they are living now, it’s really easy for Ahmet and Esra to drive over and “re-unite” them with their angry son’s spirit. Huh? That’s it, you ask?
Yeah… that is pretty much it. Well… with the last few minutes of “twist” hallucination about how Ahmet actually knew the boy when he was little… who his ex-wife Esra really is…. and then with a last scream, we can roll those credits…. after only 65 minutes or so of movie. Yeah… just 65 minutes. That ending just stinks of “Wait a moment guys… 3D movies are expensive and a real bitch to make, so lets just wrap this puppy up before we go broke…”. A shame… as there actually was a promising story here…. it simply feels though like the producers ran out of cash and quickly cobbled together an ending just so it could be released.
My verdict? Unfortunately this one can only muster 2 “Meows” out of 5 for me…. it just plain wasn’t that great a movie when all said and done. It’s got great potential as a story… but none of it felt all that “Turkish” and could just as well have been any direct-to-video B movie made in Europe or the US. The cast wasn’t bad, but then they weren’t given rolls that were really worth their time or efforts. Effects wise, it’s not bad… not up to the standards of say, “Industrial Lights & Magic”, but very good for most purposes and in no way an embarrassment for the filmmakers. All in all… it just fails on so many basic levels that it’s hard to pin any one of them as the lead culprit as to why I didn’t enjoy it that much.
The region 2 Turkish DVD is pretty good… with a PAL formatted wide-screen presentation, good accurate English subtitles as well as some in French, Spanish and Dutch. There’s a Trailer included as well as a “Making of” feature all of which make it a pretty attractive buy at around 15$ US. But still… this wee Catgirl wouldn’t really recommend it as a “must buy” to any but the most devoted foreign horror film junkies out there. Sigh…. I’m soooo hoping “Mussalat 2” will be better once it comes to DVD…..
As always… there’s a Trailer and here it goes.