A Place in Hell is a low budget, of about $200K, that is based on the real life of serial murderer / necrophiliac Harrison “Marty” Graham, who killed seven females in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania area. As for the plot of A Place in Hell, Director David Boorboor crafts his own story around the murderer, having the movie take place at an old abandoned farm / haunted attraction. A group of students is tasked with making a short film and in the process, run into the killer. The flick has signs of genuine creativity but fails to deliver on several levels in relation to the plot and acting.
Set on a Halloween fright farm in the New Jersey countryside, this psychological thriller follows Nicole Hart and a group of film students as they shoot a Horror movie for their final grade. Meanwhile, Detective John McInnis struggles to find redemption while consumed by his 5 year obsession to catch a notorious serial killer. When a winter storm blankets the countryside, and the killer seeks refuge, the students quickly realize they are not alone. While facing his inner demons, McInnis could be their only hope.
A Place in Hell starts off scary, but not for the reasons you’re thinking. We open the credits in a found footage style, introducing us to a few film students who found the perfect spot to film their horror movie. It’s an old abandoned farm house that doubled as a haunted attraction. Unbeknownst to them, the serial killer Harrison Graves has come out of hiding and has murdered the people who live next door to the farm. The students eventually start getting picked off one at a time in a hilarious fashion, as the killer comes up from behind strangling the victim, rolling his eyes to the back of his head and enjoying it way more than any person should be, hence why he is a deranged serial killer.
Meanwhile, a grizzled ex-cop John McInnis (Lewis Smith) is on the hunt for Graves and spends a good portion of the flick drunk off his ass. He eventually sobers up long enough to walk stupidly into a situation that could have been easily handled, but for some reason, he manages to cock it up.
A Place in Hell is presented as an 80s throwback to the slasher days, where both humour and horror were utilized together. Unfortunately for this movie, neither are done well. The humour is there in some spots, mainly when dealing with the student film that is being shot. The actors ham their way through both the fake film and real film to such a high degree, that it’s sometimes hard to tell if the actors are to be taken seriously during the scene or meant to be purposely acting so poorly. One scene in particular springs to mind, where we have a group of girls standing around, whilst their friend is being strangled in front of them. They stand there, half smiling, not screaming. Eventually, as if cued by the director, they walk slowly out of frame; this entire scene was laughable. It’s sad to say, but the rest of the film maintains this disturbing trend and screams low budget, more so than it should be, based on the budget it was filmed at. There are times where the film shines a bit brighter than normal, but those scenes are but fleeting moments in a sea of drivel.
I wanted to give A Place in Hell a chance, more so than I would another film, as I know how hard it is to shoot a low budget film. There are all sorts of constraints to deal with, but given the set they were able to obtain, along with actors who I know can act, it’s absolutely bizarre how poor this movie ended up being. Recommended only for people who are seriously curious.