The afterlife has long been pondered and has been the subject of many a film. Idyllic and pristine is how it is usually played up, as most focus on a version of Heaven. The horror realm likes to flip the script and peer upon the underworld. Devils and demons a plenty torment mankind on screen mostly on the earthly plane, but when we are taken to their stomping grounds, it is usually fire and brimstone. Nice to see a different approach in Dustin Wayde Mills’ latest A BLACK HEART IN WHITE HELL
We are introduced to our main character in a state of turmoil. Covered in blood, obviously tormented by what has recently happened, she ends up getting into the bathtub and taking her own life. Where this may be the end of the line for many stories, this is just the beginning in the darkest version of GROUNDHOG DAY like stories I’ve yet to see. Using both puppetry and horror effects, we see our protagonist re-living her past, but with even darker outcomes.
What I appreciate most about Dustin Wayde Mills approach to film is that he’s not afraid to push boundaries, but also not afraid to limit his films to a set structure. Rather than padding out a film to fit a 90 minute running time, he ensures that what he has on screen is hard hitting, intense and sticks with you. While this would make it difficult to be distributed by a main stream distributor, Mills has experimented enough with self-distribution that he’s found success with putting out his films digitally and physically, with many a fan picking up ALL versions that he releases.
A BLACK HEART IN WHITE HELL is a hard hitting 30 minute long film, not unlike some of his other releases. But by not worrying about padding out the story, Mills and crew leave you shaken afterwards. Tackling soul shattering topics like miscarriage, and dealing with straight up rage, we get a glimpse into a hell that isn’t typical, but definitely fits with the theme of eternal damnation and torment. There is plenty of nudity, gore and nightmare inducing imagery to appease the horror hound out there, and keep them thinking about their own personal life choices.
The film is available for streaming on Vimeo and available on DVD at Mills’ StorEnvy site. The DVD also includes 2 other shorts, audio commentary, and the full Betty Boop cartoon featured in the film.