Hellstone is Andreas Lutzelschwab’s latest film, starring Michael Glantschnig and Klemens Niklaus Trenkle. It’s always interesting to see what filmmakers can do on a small budget. Some end up having to cut corners and the final product suffers. Some can’t see their true vision realized. Others, like Andreas, are successful and are able to create a film that succeeds at everything it sets out to do.
A few weeks ago, I spoke with Andreas Lutzelschwab about Hellstone, and this is how he described the film:
“Hellstone tells the story of a dark, mystical stone which has the power to open up a temporary gate to hell, as long as it’s being fed the blood of the human possessing the stone. An occultist, satanic covenant is trying to summon a demon and open a permanent gate to the underworld. This would merge the dimension of Hell and our reality as we know it, which would lead to Hell ruling the earth. Between the remorseless covenant and the literal gates of hell stands one man who becomes a witness to a violent, satanic ritual. He’s the only one who will be able to stop the forces of evil by using the infernal powers of the dark stone.”
What I found interesting about Hellstone is that it tells its story very successfully, without including too much dialogue. There’s just enough to keep the story going, but it never goes overboard. Foreign films can be difficult for people to get into, especially when there’s a significant amount of dialogue. I never felt overwhelmed while watching Hellstone as I have with other foreign films at times. It was very easy to keep up with what was happening on screen and with what was being said.
One of my favorite things about Hellstone is just how attractive it is. To put it bluntly, the film is very pretty. Sometimes with these lower budget indie films, they seem to have an unfiltered, too-real, almost one step above a home movie look. Hellstone is quite the opposite. There’s a scene near the beginning of the film where the one character is running across a bridge against a snowy background. It’s a large picture, and is just beautiful. It’s clear that Andreas Lutzelschwab has a clear understanding of how to get beautiful shots on film. The lighting in each scene was really well done, too. There was always the right amount of light and dark in each scene, and it helped add to the overall atmosphere of the film.
In our interview with Andreas, we spoke about some of his influences for the film, with the main two being Hellraiser and The Evil Dead. He has a genuine love for ’80s horror, and it’s clear throughout the film. Just looking at how the characters are dressed tells you this is taking place in a different time. There are no cell phones, the car we see in the film is older, the computers are almost ancient. What struck me the most, though, was more than just visual. While there is some pretty good gore in the film, it’s never over the top, and it’s certainly not overused. The biggest thing, though, was that there was this dark underbelly to the film. It felt like there was something more sinister going on, and it created a very effective mood. There was a fantasy element to the film, and I must say, it was refreshing.
The only complaint that I have with the film is that the dialogue isn’t the greatest. However, since the film is in German, it’s very possible that it could have just been lost in translation. It’s not perfect, and at times does come off slightly ridiculous, but it’s not the worst thing a film can suffer from.
Ultimately, I can’t say enough good things about the movie. Hellstone stays true to its roots while never feeling like a ripoff. In a genre where the viewer has almost become desensitized, it’s an achievement and a real testament to Andreas’ work that he was able to create such an unsettling film. The film is gorgeous and is a real standout in a realm where low-budget often means sacrificing looks. The film does suffer from some dialogue issues, but overall it’s not enough to hurt the film. Hellstone is currently seeking distribution, and no release date has been set yet. As soon as we hear more, we’ll be sure to update you! In the meantime, be sure to check out the trailer for Hellstone!