100 Miles from Hell
It certainly wasn't the best film we've reviewed here, but the fact that they made a 140 minute long feature was damned impressive.
Hello everyone Kevin with Film Fervor here bringing you another Independent Film review. Today we will be discussing 2014 Canadian action film 100 Miles From Hell, written, directed and Starring Eric Sewell, Ian Sewell, and Stephen Sewell. Also starring Nathan Ewert and Adrian Robinson and Matt Butler.
100 Miles from Hell centers on two good ole boys named Steve (Stephen Sewell) and Virgil (Matt Butler) who are a bit down on their luck and decide to enter into the drug trade. Steve is friends with a lowlife confidence man named Darrin (Adrian Robinson) who helps them set up a exchange with a local crime boss and his goons. Darrin overestimates his charms and his importance and manages to insult the thugs who proceed to beat him and then steal Steve and Virgil’s money. Now truly desperate the pair decide to get theirs back with interest by stealing the drugs from the gang and becoming the new kingpins. Things start out smooth but soon the pair are outclassed due to their inexperience and find they are going to have to really dip down into the cesspit of the criminal culture just to survive.
When ever I do a review I try to find the good in any movie I watch, after all it is very difficult to make a film. Be it from the prohibitive costs, the long hours or merely the stress of trying something new, making a movie is very hard. So the first good thing I can say about directors Sewell’s project 100 Miles From Hell is that they actually put themselves out there and made a full length film. Many people just blow smoke when they say they are going to make a movie but they actually did it, so kudos to the three of you.
The Cinematography of 100 Miles from Hell is very spotty. On one hand the picture quality is beautiful and crisp and you get none of the extra shadowing you get in many Independent films. On the other hand however the cameras are jerky and very over cranked. Each scene in the film seems to be playing on fast forward and is very reminiscent of British television shows of the late 90’s and early 2000s and very much jars you out of the experience of the film. This film also has many of the strange and pointless close up on objects that serve no importance in the film. All and all the camera work leaves a lot to be desired and if you look for immersion into your films you will be greatly disappointed here.
The Audio work in 100 Miles From Hell is very low quality as each scene seems to have undergone the process of ADR or Automated Dialogue Replacement. All of the actor’s voices are completely out of sync with their lips on the film and you can tell that the actors had to work in a audio booth almost the entire film, which while impressive in the fact that this process is very hard to do properly is mired by the fact the dubbing it’s self is so poorly done. Almost all of 100 Miles From Hell sounds like they are speaking into a can and the tinny echos of the dialogue along with poor camera work makes this film very difficult to watch.
Speaking of things that make the film difficult to watch, I have to tell you the script it’s self is not up to the normal quality I have come to respect and admire in almost all of the Independent films I have reviewed. The dialogue in 100 Miles From Hell seems to have been written by a teenager trying to sound like an adult to impress his friends. Every other word in the film is the “F Bomb” to the point where they are just cussing because they can and comes off as very immature instead of the edgy the director was going for. Not only is almost all of the dialogue a swear of some form or another the actual delivery of the limited vocabulary of all of the characters is mired by the poor acting from all of the cast.
Justin’s Notes – This is also a pet peeve of mine in film and video games. An overuse of expletives really pull me out of the experience and make me wonder who wrote or supervised the dialogue scenes. As Kevin mentioned, the dialogue reminds me of a teenager trying to impress people with his use of obscenities, when it only comes off as childish and immature.
I know that many independent film stars are just getting into the market and making their very first attempts onto the acting stage but there were no redeeming performances that I can speak of from the cast of 100 Miles From Hell. All of the characters were over the top caricature of what the director thought people from the south were like. He either did very little research into the people he claimed his characters were or he wanted to use a very played out stereotype of a muscle bound southern good ole boy.
The special effects of 100 Miles From Hell were cringe worthy. The bullet holes where very clearly fake and even exploded out from the same direction that the bullets entered the walls where they hit instead of blowing out the back as they should have. The blood effects coming from the actor’s mouths was over exaggerated almost to the point where it looked like watching a Wuxia Movie from China than a western production. That said however the actual props themselves were very high quality air soft guns and looked very realistic so I have to praise them on that front.
The only truly impressive thing from 100 Miles From Hell is the fact that all of the actors did their own stunts. This is made doubly impressive when you see some of the dangerous situations they are actually in, most notably is the fight scene between Steve and a henchman on the back towed flatbed trailer on the highway. It takes a lot of courage to perform even sub par action scenes while the risk of death is only a few inches away from your feet.
Justin’s Notes – This actually is kind of interesting, as Eric Sewell did his own stunts in an earlier movie called “Rosedale” and injured himself while doing an action stunt, where he had the top of his head cut open from a wall impact.
On that note let us talk about the fight scenes. When I first saw them my mind was immediately brought back to the old 1960’s Star Trek. All of the moves were very telegraphed and clearly never connected with their opponents and the sound effects were also the old breaking a stalk of celery off camera to make a punching sound, it was so bad it was almost endearing. The fight scenes were all badly choreographed and lasted much to long for the quality of the work being put into them. At many places I almost felt the need to fast forward the horrible fighting just to try to get back to the story it’s self.
Like any movie there was the obligatory chase scene on the back roads of the countryside they were in. The characters themselves reacted to it like they were speeding when you could clearly see they were barely going the speed limit and I laughed out loud when one of the goons claimed Steve was a maniac by making a very soft left turn and reacting to it like they were doing over a hundred miles an hour. The impacts of the cars crashing into each other was also very realistic. Meaning they barely tapped one another and made a very soft clang of metal just like if you accidentally brushed someone while you were passing them on the freeway, it was made all the more groan worthy by the fact the characters reacted as if they had been in a high speed hit instead of the soft tap that was shown. Like the fight scenes the chase scenes also went on way too long and felt boring instead of exciting.
When all is said and done 100 Miles From Hell simply fails to deliver on it’s promise given the solid if over used story. The acting was sub par as was the cinematography and audio work. I think if the Sewell’s had tried to make a a short film as their second project it might have been better but at nearly two hours long 100 Miles From Hell is only worth a look as a film of what not to do in the independent film industry. That said I am giving it a two out five stars due to the fact the picture quality was crystal clear and the fact they actually went out and made a film and got it published instead of just talking about it.
Given time to refine their technique and sharpen their acting chops I think they may become fine directors in the future and hope they don’t give up on the industry.