Hell and Back
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Hell and Back is a 2015 stopmotion adult animated film directed by Tom Gianas (whom also wrote the film) and Ross Shuman. It was produced by ShadowMachine Films and distributed by Freestyle Releasing. The film was released on October 2, 2015.
When their friends breaks a blood oath over a mint, a portal opens and sucks him into hell. Two best friends risk everything and go through the portal to save him from demons and the devil himself.
Why It Won't See You There
- To get the elephant out of the room: The main plot is downright ridiculous and stupid. It's basically about Curt getting sent to Hell, and Remy and Augie going to find him there. And why did he get sent to Hell in the first place? Because he took a mint from Remy and promised to pay it back with a blood oath, only to them not have a mint to pay him back with. This is a downright nonsensical and stupid reason for someone to get sent to Hell. Not to mention how making a blood oath to trade mints with someone else is just as nonsensical as someone being dragged into Hell for not being able to complete said deal.
- The story itself isn't just bad, but most of the major plot points are constantly thrown in with no foreshadowing, build-up, or explanation. And the plot itself wobbles around on what it wants to be and what will happen next so much that it makes it feel like they just made up the story as they went along (in the words of PhantomStrider).
- Despite being aimed at adults, the movie itself is far from genuinely mature in terms of tone or how the adult concepts are presented. As it feels the constant need to be immature and brash in it's attempts to be edgy, in which results of having more appealing for teenagers rather than actual adult audiences.
- There's an enormous amount of profanity-related remarks and swearing to the point where they make up a large amount of the film's actual dialogue (as more often than not, whenever the characters talk they will most likely throw in a swear word). And, as a result, the swear words themselves lose their meaning or any sense of them being funny.
- None of the characters are likable, as they're all either mean-spirited, dull, or cynical. A common stereotype (and cliche) about media that's aimed at adults being that all the characters have to act mean-spirited and spiteful towards one another.
- While the film has a large amount of truly mature and serious concepts, they're present in the film not for the sake of advancing the story of for symbolism, but for the sake of attempting to be hip and edgy and warrant it's R-rating (i.e., sex, drugs, Hell, demons).
- Speaking of the characters (as previously mentioned in WISSIH# 2.2), they are all incredibly unpleasant, unsympathetic, and as also previously mentioned, range from mean-spirited, to dull, to cynical (if not all three of them).
- Remy is very selfish and inconsiderate of those around him. He constantly acts like a jerk to his "friends" and doesn't even seem invested in actually saving Curt until Augie gets him to. And even then, he commented that it better be quick, meaning that he still didn't truly care about getting Curt back (although to be fair, Curt isn't a saint himself). His humor is also absolutely low-brow and immature (as with most of the attempts of humor in this film).
- Augie serves as little more for the movie than a walking fat joke and enormous punching bag. As he's constantly belittled and mocked by the other characters (particularly Remy and Curt) for being overweight. Any other personality he has is him being the more cautious and more apprehensive foil the Remy's brash and rude nature (which has already been done to death in movies and TV shows alike).
- Curt is a character who somehow manages to be even worse than Remy (and given all that's been said about Remy previously, that's really saying a lot). His refusal to return a mint to Remy already started the incredibly stupid chain of events in the movie, not to mention how it's also not a good first impression of his character. He later continues to stoop lower by making fun of the Devil's business and art after his arrival in Hell. It gets to the point where Remy's unwillingness to help him is almost actually justified had he not have been a douchebag himself!
- Deema, a half-demon girl from Hell, serves little to no purpose to the real plot of the movie other than serving as the film's "strong female character" as she's the only major female character in the movie. As she has almost no real personality established in the entirety of the movie's runtime other than "being a girl".
- The Devil, the main antagonist of the film, is incredibly inconsistent character, as shown when Curt arrives in Hell. As he constantly goes from saying that he will kill Curt, and then acting nice towards him. For example, one of the first glimpses we get into his character is him showing Curt his art, and then suddenly stopping and saying "That's your first punishment in Hell." And while that was kinda understandable given how Curt had been mocking his art, there's still the fact that he continues doing things like that throughout the film again, and again, and again to the point where it becomes inexcusable. Any other established traits of his is him being a wimp and his desire to have sex with an Angel named Barb.
- Orpheus might just be the worst character in the entirety of the film (and given the other previously discussed characters, that is saying so much). His dialogue is downright horrendous, his backstory is absolutely nonsensical (one of which that he constantly rubs in the other characters' faces), and his personality in general is him being a misogynistic and egotistical jerk. There's also a scene where he sings, and it's downright horrendous.
- The animation, while it clearly had some effort and dedication put into it, still looks rather unappealing for the most part. With sometimes the characters move in a slow way or having an uncanny wooden puppet-like design in their faces.
- Any attempts of humor are downright horrendous, due to the fact that they're completely centered around swearing, cruelty, or things that are completely tasteless. they don't even fit into black comedy territory due to the fact that they simply aren't funny nor comedic. And instead, they're simply sadistic, tasteless and completely immature. Examples include (but are not limited to) the characters joking about Augie being fat, Orpheus abusing and acting misogynistic towards Deema, Hell being portrayed as a place where souls are endlessly and brutally tortured, sex jokes (The Devil accidentally sends a dick-pic to Barb, for one instance), and The Devil just sporadically going back and forth on his intentions of what to do with Curt after he's sent to Hell.
- While there isn't much of it, there are some examples of product placement in the film. For example, when Remy and Augie first arrive in Hell, there's a line of souls ordering from a pair Pizza Hut and Taco Bell restaurants. Not to mention how the product placement itself was very shameless, even if there wasn't much of it.
- The animation, while unpleasant sometimes, still obviously had quite some effort put into it. Not to mention but the backgrounds of the movie, especially the ones used for Hell, also look pretty cool.
- The character models for Remy, Augie, Deema, Orpheus and Barb are extremely smooth and good-looking, especially when it comes to both Deema and Barb.
- Decent voice acting, due to it having many well-known actors such as Mila Kuntis, Bob Odenkirk, and Susan Sarandon among others.
- The scene in which Barb magically strips off her angel outfit and does an erotic striptease in front of the others, including the main characters and the Devil himself, is the most noteworthy scene in the entire film, as it's extremely sexy and very great to watch. Even the character's reactions are hilarious; like the Devil's "I wish I was that pole", and Deema's "She's on the wrong side of 40".
- The concept of Hell being ran like a business sounds like an interesting one, in spite of the awful execution. It actually sounds like a concept that would better work for a TV series rather than simply a movie.
- Helluva Boss is this concept done right since not only is it executed well, but added some funny moments as well.
- The soundtrack is actually pretty decent.
- The opening animated credits is solid, since it has a very reminiscent steampunk vibe to it.
Hell and Back received overwhelmingly negative reviews from critics and audiences alike. Criticizing it for it's plot, characters, animation, and tasteless humor. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 0% based on 5 reviews, with an average rating of 2.45/10.
Hell and Back opened theatrically on October 2, 2015, in 411 venues, earning $104,374 in its opening weekend, ranking number 33 in the domestic box office. As of October 15, the film grossed $157,768.
- This is the first theatrically released animated film since 9 (2009) to not be rated either G or PG by the MPAA.