CFF Review: Gregory Shultz’ ’Hell Hole’ Brings Big Excitement, Small Pieces
The short film opens with what many people know well, slacking off on the job. Mason (played by Marty McCue), a maintenance employee working in a secluded government facility in the mountains of Arizona. He is tackling the mundane tasks and dealing with an overbearing voice referred to as Control (voiced by John Horlick) who is continually demanding additional work be done over a walkie-talkie. During one of these discussions, it all goes wrong when a paint can and screwdriver are dropped from the scaffolding to a panel below causing an explosion that opens a gate.
Panicked and believing he just set off a missile, Mason flees the scaffolding and begins his escape from the tunnels. It’s during this sequence that Mason learns not everything is as it seems and that a missile launch is not what’s going on. That’s no missile silo that opened, it’s a gate to hell. It’s at this point we see our first glimpse of the creature when it attacks with its crab like claw. The short ends with Mason successfully escaping the facility but the creature is free as well. We get a parting shot of the creature to see it in full miniature glory. What will become of the earth with the gate open and possible other creatures free to escape? Hopefully we find out in a sequel.
The real treat of this short is the presentation of all the practical effects. During a live talk at CFF, Gregory Shultz talked about how everything was built at 1/10 scale in a warehouse before filming. Yes, you can tell everything is a miniature but there is a real charm in that! The creature design is cheesy and funny, I could fully imagine the design being a “man in a suit” monster if they ever went to a larger scale. Everything about ‘Hell Hole’ harkens back to the Showa era of Godzilla and a childhood favorite of mine, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. The miniatures are well made and the amount of detail put into the background settings, especially the titular gate, are impressive. When all hell breaks loose we get to see some fun destruction during Mason’s escape from the facility.
The synth-filled score is ripped straight from the 80s and fits perfectly with the tone of the short. The surf rock end credits are a fun way to wrap things up too; credit to Miles Carrington for capturing the perfect music vibe. ’Hell Hole’ is a fun and effective short film. It makes the most of its 9-minute run time. It doesn’t try to do too much, it gets straight to the point and gives you exactly what you came for. I truly adore everything about this and would love to see more from Shultz and this prop team. We need more movies with miniatures! Check out the full short below.