As someone who runs a website dedicated to reviewing films, I have the privilege of receiving emails from studios and distribution companies about upcoming releases. As you may have noticed, the time I spend watching and reviewing movies has changed over the years, going from publishing multiple reviews in a day, at one point to, now, only once a week. Because of this, I rarely even look at the emails that come flooding into my inbox. I simply just do not have the time. There are some emails that do catch my attention, however. That actually happened this past Friday night; I opened an email from Unearthed Films and after reading the synopsis, I knew I had to watch the film in question. Almost like it was destined to happen, I received my mail the next day and amazingly, there was a package that contained a copy of the film! The film that I’m referring to is Vincenzo Petrarolo’s Lilith’s Hell.
Diehard Ruggero Deodato fan and film director, Ryan (Marcus J. Cotterell), arrives in Rome to meet his friend Marco (director, Vincenzo Petrarolo). The duo, along with their cameraman, Alberto (Federico Palmieri), travel to the countryside, outside of Roma, to Marco’s grandparent’s house to shoot their horror… er… it’s not a horror film, it’s realism (Ryan is very adamant about that). After the arrival of the lead actress, Michelle (Manuela Stanciu), Ryan realizes that things aren’t coming together as smoothly as he’d hoped for his big film. Everyone decides it best to call it a night and get ready for the next day, the first day of filming. Their good night’s sleep doesn’t last long, however, as they are all abruptly awakened by banging and moaning, heard throughout the house. Soon after investigating, and finding nothing, naturally, something possesses Michelle and causes her to mutilate Alberto. Now, running for their lives, the remaining cast and crew must figure out what the hell is going on and how to survive it.
There are plenty of people who will simply write off a film just because it falls into the found footage sub-genre. I mean, I can’t say I blame them. It has been done to death and we’ve seen it all. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t still something great to offer. Vincenzo Petrarolo knows that and has made a film that is certainly a solid entry into the mockumentary repository.
Lilith’s Hell features a small cast of just five main characters. This not only allowed the film to stay within its budget constraints, but also allowed Petrarolo to develop his characters enough for us to actual care about them to a certain degree. We don’t learn their entire life stories or anything, but we see enough interaction and hear enough dialog between them all to know what each person is about.
Aside from a few instances of some exaggerated reactions, the performances throughout Lilith’s Hell were all rather impressive. I absolutely loved Petrarolo’s character “Marco” because he was just there to make a movie and have some fun, but when things got real, he was able to really emote some true grief and fear. While the entire cast did a wonderful job portraying their respective characters, I must give the most credit to the females. Manuela Stanciu and Joelle Rigollet, Michelle and her make-up artist Sara, respectively, both had stellar performances. Stanciu was able to play the melodramatic model-turned-actress who wanted to dance and do drugs, the frightened and fed-up bystander, and a possessed demon — all roles as equally as natural as each other. Seriously, the exorcism scenes with her rival any other possession film you’ve seen, possibly ever.
Lilith’s Hell is provocative and terrifying. There is a coherent story present and is not just your run-of-the-mill found footage flick. The special effects are above the caliber you’d expect from an indie film of this nature and in addition to all of that, it features a cameo from the maestro himself, the father of the mockumentary style of filmmaking, Ruggero Deodato. Even if you’re over the found footage genre as a whole, give this one a watch. I strongly believe you will find something you like about it, as I enjoyed it immensely.
The film was produced in just under three weeks in 2015, but finally receives its home video release. Be sure to grab yourself a copy on DVD Tuesday, October 17, from Unearthed Films and MVD Visual. It features some great interviews with cast and crew, including a very interesting one with Deodato, himself.
Lilith’s Hell gets a final repulsive rating of 4 worshippers out of 5.