When recently deceased Faith (Lindsey Marks) finds herself in the middle of a barren war zone, she finds it hard to believe that she’s made it to Heaven. She is eventually convinced, however, by Judas (Christopher Marcum) and a ragtag band of apostles, who are working to free Heaven from the rule of conniving Archangel Zerach (Ethan Henry), who tricked and imprisoned God (David Morris) in a machine that allows Zerach to power himself with human souls. Only Jesus Christ (Mark ViaFranco) can help the apostles and the army of Moses (Paul Russell) regain control of Heaven, except Jesus was drawn and quartered, with his body parts scattered all over Heaven, so he’s a bit indisposed at the moment.
With Faith and other recently deceased mortal Jake (Danny Heeter) in tow, apostles Judas, Junia (Tierza Scaccia), Thomas (David Bertucci) and Thaddeus (Chris Meister) set out to find the remaining pieces of Jesus so that they can reassemble and resurrect him; as Judas remarks, “savior of humanity, some assembly required.” Before their journey ends, all manner of Biblical characters make an appearance, including a scene-stealing Lucifer (Jack Schultz), in the ultimate battle for Heaven.
Chris Sato and Mike Meyer’s war epic Heaven Is Hell is at turns blasphemous and other times absurd, but it is also extremely entertaining. Quick witted as it turns Biblical characters and religious scenarios on their ears, the film has a little something for everyone in its war-torn Heavenly wasteland. Well, depending on your religious tolerance (because not all Christians are as tolerant as they’re theoretically supposed to be).
When it comes to resources, the film more than makes do with what it has. It excels in the gore department in more than a few sequences, and the occasional moments of computer visual effects work don’t look cheap or weak; simply, when something needed to be done right, it was, and then some. It’s an impressive endeavor no matter how you slice it.
There are definitely moments where the resources can’t quite match the ambitions, however; the epic final battle has to contend with the fact that, for a huge siege, there’s really not that many people in this film. It’s shot well enough to be a convincing climax, but at the same time, you can imagine what this would be like if there was some ridiculous blockbuster money behind it.
Again, though, this is not going to be for everyone. Some folks out there aren’t going to take too kindly to a movie where God can be tricked into becoming a battery for an evil Archangel, or that Jesus needs to be put back together like he’s some holy jigsaw puzzle. I found the film to be an engaging war film, with more than a few post-apocalyptic and zombie wasteland nods, that played with the genres and put an intriguing spin on things; so often we see a film about an oppressed few fighting back, with the key being some savior that’s an obvious religious allegory. Here we just get Jesus as a character instead; Save your allegory, here’s the Savior.
I truly enjoyed Heaven Is Hell. Sure, it’s got some sacrilegious moments in it, but it is a film about a war in Heaven, so what do you expect? I think it finds a nice balance of respecting aspects of religion while delivering on a fantastical action-packed tale. It’s a unique, though challenging, mix and the film pulls it off admirably.
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