Horrors of the supernatural kind rooted in real world horror can be some of the most effective with the real components of the story lending seriousness to the fictional. In the case of Dena Hysell’s ASCENT TO HELL that reality is the 1911 fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City, with additional references to similar tragedies happening in the present in the likes of India and Bangladesh. Using these tragedies as a starting point Dena has crafted a fine example of a classic ghost story.
Kate (Azura Skye ONE MISSED CALL) is a real estate agent specializing in beautiful upscale lofts. However, she is forced to switch gears when a company looking to sell an old industrial building insist she be the one to handle the sale. Eager to prove herself, Kate takes on the commission and pitches the property to the people behind a clothing line and finds herself touring the building with Mary (Taylor Back SUGAR DADDIES) who is the heiress behind the clothing line, a couple of sleazy businessmen looking to cash in on the business and then flip the building when she loses interest, and Wesley (Cayleb Long) and Bill (Jonathon Kaplan) two experts there to determine the building’s condition. Rouding out the cast is Roman (John Hennigan SINBAD AND THE WAR OF THE FURIES), Mary’s bodyguard. It doesn’t take long before strange things related to a tragic fire start happening and the people start dying one by one.
ASCENT TO HELL does a great job of building a wonderfully creepy atmosphere, the old factory is dark and gloomy with what looks like outlines of human forms in the smoke stains on the wall. It’s even more impressive when you realize it was shot in a few rooms on one floor. The crew certainly got the most out of the small budget here, it really looks as if it was shot in an old factory. It’s the perfect setting for the unnamed antagonist played by William Ryall. The factory’s manager in life, he won’t let death slow down production, and he’s more than willing to deal harshly with trespassers.
On the down side, a few revelations are telegraphed well in advance, there’s some awful CGI flames and an ending I wasn’t overly fond of. But over all ASCENT TO HELL is a nice old school tale of a haunting, built on scares and atmosphere although low on gore which won’t appeal to everyone, but for those that don’t mind the lack of blood it’s certainly worth seeing.
ASCENT TO HELL is available from Gravitas Ventures via VOD and streaming outlets.