Tyler Christensen, made his first directorial feature film debut and served as screenwriter for what became his last feature to date, as well as his only entry into the horror genre. The production filmed partially in Wisconsin, and built the story from an urban legend, all to create a scant 75-minute flick which successfully obtained distribution through Terror Films. Tyler mainly works as a television producer and was the author of a children’s book Bryan the Scarecrow Who’s Scared of Everything.
The story centers around a group of friends who set out to find a mysterious Halloween attraction, rumored it’s just out of city limits, a place masked by an urban legend, which states that no one has ever made it all the way through the place. Among the travelers an athlete Ryan (Brad Fry), Melanie (Anne Leighton (Cyrus ), Nate (Aaron Galvin (Die Cheerleader Die ) and Amber (Laura Coover) seek this extreme haunt, which shockingly they find it and strangely at no cost, except their souls. Upon their arrival, at a vacant House of Purgatory they find themselves greeted by a skeleton (Brian Krause, (Haunted Maze ) who states, “abandon all hope, for it cannot penetrate these walls.” This statement lifted from Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, namely from The Inferno section of his famous work. As they entered into the first room lit a few Halloween props namely Painting Howling Harry and Painting Victor Vamp. The story becomes a tad muddled, rather than journey through Hell it is considered Purgatory, per the director’s statements, and not from a religious standpoint. As they proceed through the rooms with courage, the journey revealing secrets and desires, with they must accept as part of them, but they crumble from the visual displays. Those issues facing them, one of them must face his true sexual orientation, another the abortion she had, another a true crime of murder, with one more facing a hidden truth, more one this in a moment.
The director, stated the film has no connection to religious horror, nor to sins, everything shown to the visitors, actually secrets; however, anyone who hears the word purgatory thinks of religion, namely when the movie quotes Dante for entering hell. Regardless, one the teens suffered a rape by a relative, no reason for their inclusion in the house, but Tyler’s view: “intended to highlight … not being punished for things they had done, but rather tormented by those things [she] kept locked away in the back corner of [her] mind”. Still this concept doesn’t make much sense to keep her trapped there, to make her relive the incestuous crime and innocent loss, over and over. Basically, no one escapes the torments, for they cannot accept what they did, by not owning, admitting, and accepting their secrets, condemning them for that not actually sins. Hence it continues a jumble storyline in the last half of the film, as no one likely to separate sins from secrets, eternity spent wandering aimlessly with no hope or judgment.
The beginning of the film sets up the characters, however the actors, neither look like high school students or act like them, unsure why it couldn’t be college, nevertheless this delivers a mixed bag of acting, no true chemistry between the friends. In addition, wasting Krause’s talents in a tiny throwaway scene, so many great ways he likely enhances the overall production. The excessive dialogues never gel well enough to engage the viewer, especially with director mixing sins and secrets and words or purgatory and hell references. It feels at times as if the story leans to Hell houses run by Christian groups telling them that torments awaiting sinners in hell for their lusts, however once it sways away from this concept too.
Tyler’s flick, suffers from sins committed in the name of the horror genre, often when using some references to religion or in this case moral values, there’s impact something lasting to the viewer, but here everything is relatively flat and mundane, a general slasher more entertaining. When using suppressed homosexuality tendencies and sexual abuse as ‘secrets’ and thereby the individuals involved find themselves damned for life, likely going to lose the audience’s interest, one needs to give them someone to root for and without it lose their respect. When this movie originally came out back in 2016, I contacted Tyler, himself to ask about inclusion to trap the character who had sexual abuse done to her, why is she trapped? And some of those responses enclosed in this review, as to the reason for not including the full answer, Terror Films on January 20, 2017 stated: We’d prefer that you do not attach Mr. Christensen’s statement to your review. Please, take no offense to this. He wanted the response to be to you specifically. Hence, I used only one quote from the him rather than the entire message.
No one escapes purgatory.
IMDb Rating: 4.2/10
Baron’s Rating: 4.0/10