Glenville: Hell’s Homecoming (2005) Movie Review

(Movie Review by Oshram ) Having worked on a few no-budget movies in my time, I’m keenly aware of how much effort goes into getting them made. For most filmmakers, this kind of film is a labor of love (and often a maxing out of one’s credit cards), and they know going in that they’re not making the next “Jaws” or “Pulp Fiction”; mostly they’re just hoping they’re making the next “El Mariachi” or “Clerks”. Sadly, in the case of Anthony Spadaccini and “Glenville: Hell’s Homecoming”, even aiming that modestly is too high.

“Hell’s Homecoming”, by Fleet Street Films, at least recognizes at the outset that budget is going to be a serious factor, and as a result the film is shot for the most part in someone’s house (with only the vaguest of redressing to make it appear as another location). That’s no problem, because you work with what you have. Unfortunately the limited resources extend to the actors. I’m sure writer/director Anthony Spadaccini had to use actors willing to work for little or no pay, and you can’t be too picky when that’s the case. Nevertheless, aside from John Larsen, who seems to have worked before, no one here appears to have any experience at all, and it shows. Performances vary according to the natural gifts of the actor involved, with seemingly little direction from Spadaccini, making for very uneven results.

This isn’t the worst of the movie’s sins, however (and some of it is forgivable anyway), but where “Hell’s Homecoming” really goes awry is in trying to stretch 35 minutes of material into a film twice that length. If you have a 30-page script, make a 30-minute film, not a 70-minute flick. Instead, the audience is subjected to lengthy and repeated slow-motion and slightly out of focus close ups of the characters as they linger for two or three minutes, with no dialogue or voice-overs — just someone standing there looking vaguely bored, or demented, or whatever expression they’re trying for. Used once, this trick might have been effective; but used twenty times, it made me twitch for the FF button on my remote.

Many scenes are artificially lengthened this way, adding nothing to the film at all (not even ‘mood,’ which is what I’m guessing the intended effect was). Spadaccini is also too fond of the editing tricks available in his PC software suite. In trying for a sense of style, what he got was style with no substance, which translates into a big mess. If he had focused more on his storytelling and less on trying to create atmosphere through software, he might have had a better film. The story behind “Hell’s Homecoming” isn’t a bad idea, but it needs to have more to it. You can wrap a tiny present in a big box with lots of ribbons and decorations, but in the end, you’ve still got a tiny present.

“Hell’s Homecoming” is apparently an early effort, and I would advise Mr. Spadaccini to stop relying so heavily on computer effects and start looking at what makes movies — at least no-budget movies — really great. That is, plot and scripts. You can’t always have control over who auditions for you, but you can control what words come out of their mouths. Start with a solid groundwork and get a good story, then add a little dash of style. Don’t try to overwhelm us with camera trickery; it gets old really quick, and it feels like you’re trying to stretch out a thin concept.

Anthony Spadaccini (director) / Anthony Spadaccini (screenplay)
CAST: Steven Brown …. Ken Walsh
Chris Erickson …. Pierce Wilson

Buy Glenville: Hell's Homecoming on DVD