“Hell and Back” review

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I love stop motion, I love monsters and I love dark comedies. But I didn’t like Hell and Back.

Hell and Back is a 2015 movie directed by Tom Gianas and Ross Shuman. When I first heard about this movie, I was pretty excited; it seemed to have everything I like. And Susan Sarandon is in it. As I was writing I love stop motion animation, I realized I had not watched this movie yet, so I did. And I ended up being pretty disappointed. I knew, in the first 5 minutes, that I was not going to like this movie.

I have to admit, I really enjoyed the animation. The characters looked great and original. I loved the colours too. The sets looked amazing and the demons looked pretty damned cool (pun slightly intended). Judging only on how the movie looks, I’d give it something near a full mark. I also enjoyed the music throughout most of the movie. But unfortunately, the movie also has a script. The premise of the story is quite fun; Remy (Nick Swardson) and his friends Augie (T.J. Miller) and Curt (Rob Riggle) work in an amusement park that is clearly dying out, when Remy finds a book with a picture of the Devil (Bob Odenkirk). But it is no ordinary picture; it is crying. After breaking a blood oath he made on the book, Curt is sucked into Hell and Remy and Augie decide to go and save him. The whole “finding a cursed book” thing is not the most original premise ever, but it could have been good. Plus, the blood oath Curt breaks is pretty silly, which is probably the only thing I found amusing.

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Hell and Back is trying to be funny but it does not quite succeeds. Most of the jokes are racist or sexist and just plain bad. And most of them are quite repetitive. It seems like it’s trying really hard to have a South Park kind of vibe, by swearing a lot and trying to be controversial, but once again, it fails. South Park is satire, Hell and Back wants to be but ends up being kind of offensive instead. There were a few little moments that made me giggle, but nothing important enough to redeem the whole movie. The other times I giggled were because I thought the dialogue was really bad. Had the movie been well-written and actually funny, it could have been a good, enjoyable movie. Sadly, it seems like the writers did not put much effort into it. All the characters were incredibly annoying (except maybe the Devil, I quite liked him sometimes) and most of them were very flat, with absolutely no development whatsoever.

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In order to write a proper review, I wanted to watch the movie until the end, but it was so difficult! I kept being distracted by anything else. I couldn’t concentrate on the movie; it was that bad. Not “so bad it’s good”, like Tommy Wiseau’s The Room (2003), but just bad. Anyway, if you want to check it out for the animation, go ahead, it is the only thing worth it in the movie. Otherwise, you can avoid this movie and won’t be missing anything.

Hell and Back: C-

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