As a personal rule, I don't enjoy ripping on smaller, independent horror fare. I get that there's inherent difficulties and stumbling blocks in making any movie, let alone one where the budget is scraped together by any means possible and the director has to cajole friends and other amateurs to take part. Part of me wants to give Hell Hole the benefit of the doubt, as writer/director Eric Hollinshead has no other IMDB credits aside from multiple production roles on a short film. Hell Hole has the feel of a film that was tossed together with the intention of only showing it as a lark during all night booze filled binges surrounded by friends.
Rick and Tyler are two best buds stuck in a rut better known as “one's early twenties”. Their band couldn't find its way out of the garage with a map. They work dead end jobs at a local burger joint and don't have much luck with the ladies. That last bit looks like it may change after Tyler meets a couple of girls online, and the four of them meet up at the local dive bar for a boozy night out. Things take a turn for the worse after Tyler mistakes a closed off portion of the bar for the men's room and accidentally releases a horde of demonic creatures hellbent on finding a vessel for Satan's rebirth. When their dates are captured, it's up to Tyler and Rick to save the day.
Starting with its pan and scan aspect ratio, Hell Hole is plagued with a number of technical and logistical issues that taken individually could lend indie charm to the film, but stacked up one on top of another makes for a frustrating experience trying to watch the film. Aside from the 4:3 aspect ration, there are hideous night to day transition scenes, groan inducing special effects and a timeline that makes zero logical sense. On the plus side, I'll admit some of the cheesier comedy bits appealed to my warped sense of humor and Jessie Bockenek turns in a fun performance as the oversexed party girl Lizzie. Aside from her there's little else to recommend.
On a deeper level, Hell Hole suffers from its inclusion of the most douchetastic characters ever and some uncomfortable racial stereotypes. Tyler (Devin Marcus Miller) is text book frat boy that every comedy featuring college kids feels obligated to include since Stifler and American Pie became a thing. Tyler embodies the worst in whiny dude, entitled white-kid culture, right down to his porn sounds ring tone and penchant for fucking things up then absolving himself of responsibility. Hollinshead script celebrates these heinous characteristics rather than condemn them. Nowhere is this more apparent than the portrayal of a hindu coworker at the burger joint. It attempts to play off ugly racial and cultural stereotypes for laughs but is just plain ugly.
In short, Hell Hole is the type of effort that gives steers potential fans away from independent horror films. It's a slapped together film that embraces “bro” culture with a smug earnestness. Hell Hole feels like the kind of project put together by people whose appreciation of film begins and ends with Kevin Smith. Pass.