Hell´s Gate

Hell´s Gate is a bridge in New York near where the central character ex-con and small time loser Kevin Kinney operates. He owes some money to the mob and he is desperate to repay the debt before it gets him killed. He agrees to take on a mysterious job at the request of his friend and ex-cell mate Ben, hoping to make a big enough score to quit the criminal life for good but naturally this is no straight forward job.

Hell´s Gate

This title is the work of first time director John Cecil and it suffers from the usual limitations you´d expect from a low budget production. The script is littered with cliched characters and dialogue and some of the acting is obviously amateurish. A few dodgy plot devices are employed and the action is frequently far from convincing. Luckily the direction and editing are competent and, although they do borrow from other films, there are moments that work quite well.

The two friends are interviewed by Mr Nobody, a mysterious well dressed criminal with a bad English accent played by Teddy Alexandro-Evans who gives easily the worst performance of the film. He seems to know all about Kevin and it transpires that he wants Kevin and Ben to kidnap the daughter of a wealthy local businessman and help him extract a ransom. It soon becomes apparent that they have no experience in the kidnapping game and they make several obvious errors.

Brian Faherty as Kevin and Jeremy Cohen as Ben are both quite good and definitely better than your average low budget acting standard although Kevin isn´t a very believable hardened ex-con and Ben is a New York criminal stereotype. Chelsea Miller plays the kidnapped girl and she stumbles over many of her lines. Teddy Alexandro-Evans is completely unconvincing and lacks the presence or confidence you´d expect from such a character.

As the film wore on it got better and I enjoyed the sting in the tail. There was enough going on here to hold my interest for the 84 minute running time. With a bit more attention to detail this could have been really quite entertaining, there were some silly moments though, both kidnappers were happy to have the victim see their faces and to engage her in conversation, a nose full of coke was their weak justification for not gagging her. When one of the kidnappers makes a ransom note in classic style by cutting bits of newspaper he doesn´t wear gloves which, as an ex-con, would probably lead to his easy identification. It wasn´t a surprise to read in an interview with Cecil that he wrote this script in a week.

Looking beyond the minor criticisms this is easily one of the better independent low budget films I have seen. The story is a nice idea, the acting is passable and the direction shows promise.


Reviewed by Simon Hill

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