I always find it difficult to start writing about the movies that blew me away. About movies that I know are masterpieces and deserve more than your run-of-the-mill releases. Drenched in symbolism and gripping, Hellhole is one of the best horror movies I’ve seen in a long time. Best occult horror movies to be more precise. I think I felt the same while watching Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness as a teen. Although the start of this movie is more reminiscent of another eighties classic The Name of The Rose. We will be following Marek, a police officer investigating a series of disappearances around a strange monastery in Poland.
The story takes place during the eighties, so Hellhole has that retro horror vibe. Kind of like Ti West’s The House of the Devil, only this is a more captivating experience. Right from the start, you immerse yourself in the story and this thick, brooding atmosphere. The monastery or sanatorium as the priest calls it looks positively disgusting. It’s decrepit, filthy, dimly lit, and just horrifyingly depressing. A kind of place where you would kill yourself in a matter of weeks. Or days. And since we’re following an investigation, we start forming theories about what’s going on. We use our knowledge of horror movies and storytelling to guess where the story is going.
And this is where Hellhole or Ostatnia Wieczerza shines. It is at the same time deliciously simple retro slasher and gloriously metaphoric occult horror movie offering a refreshing look at a familiar subject. Fans of horror movies will appreciate this, I’m sure. So, as you probably guessed from that original title this is a Polish movie. Literally translated Ostatnia Wieczerza means Last Supper. Wait a minute, this isn’t the first Polish horror movie we talked about Nobody Sleeps in The Woods Tonight was a solid and straightforward slasher by Bartosz M. Kowalski. And he really outdid himself with this one. This is a man whose career we will follow with great interest.
It is the year of our lord Satan 1987 and things are not well in a remote part of Poland. Women have been disappearing for some time in this area and Marek, a dedicated police officer is sent undercover to a local monastery to find out if they know something. Here, he starts realizing that things might not be how they seem. And that priests here are hiding a secret.
Don’t think that because this is a Polish movie that it looks bad or anything. Hellhole features excellent cinematography and special effects. All the sets look realistic and more importantly lived in. All of this contributes a sense of authenticity that’s incredibly important in movies like this. You need to really feel that uncomfortable and claustrophobic atmosphere. And you will most certainly feel it here. This place is truly a hellhole but that’s just the beginning of it. It looks like one of Zdzisław Beksiński’s paintings if you’re familiar with his work.
The same goes for our charismatic cast led by Piotr Zurawski and Olaf Lubaszenko. When it comes to the story, it starts like any other horror movie. It then slowly transforms into a dark mystery and then twists its way into something entirely else. Symbolism is incredibly important as we start getting closer and closer to that glorious finale. Let’s just say that things are not as they appear and have not been since the dawn of time and leave it at that. The Polish black metal band Behemoth has a lot of songs about this.
Hellhole is an instant classic and a movie with a huge replay value. It’s also a perfect example of just how wrong and deceptive IMDb ratings can be. With almost no marketing effort, the movie was released on Netflix to mostly Polish audiences. Polish audience that’s almost ninety percent Catholic Christian and that’s all I’m going to say. And to this day, there’s still no trailer available.
Director: Bartosz M. Kowalski
Writers: Bartosz M. Kowalski, Mirella Zaradkiewicz
Cast: Piotr Zurawski, Olaf Lubaszenko, Sebastian Stankiewicz, Lech Dyblik, Zbigniew Walerys
Fun Facts: The movie was shot in the village of Lubiaz, Poland. With the population of only 2300 residents the village is quite popular because of its huge abbey. It was built by the Benedictines in 1150, and occupied by Cistercians in 1163 until 1810 and it is the largest Cistercian abbey in the world.