Movie Review: ‘Catch Hell’ From Director/Writer/Producer Ryan Phillippe

Greetings again from the darkness. Ryan Phillippe has hit the big Four-O, so it makes sense that he would want to explore the other side of the camera with writing, directing, and producing. He’s had a pretty successful acting career given what could be termed a minimal lack of range and a quiet screen presence. His feature film directorial debut utilizes a script he co-wrote with Joe Gossett, capitalizing on Phillippe’s lot in Hollywood right now … a once promising star looking to recapture the magic with a “game-changer”.

The film opens with a dramatic shot of actor Reagan Pearce’s (RP … get it?) stunning mansion. We see him catch a flight to Shreveport, Louisiana and take a meeting with a slightly spastic director and blow-hard producer. He decides to stick with the project in an effort to re-establish his career … he’s just out of rehab (of course). The next morning, things go really badly as Reagan is kidnapped by a couple of Louisiana hillbillies and chained up in a swamp cabin.

Brutal torture scenes follow and we soon enough learn that one of his captors (Ian Barford) is seeking revenge for Reagan’s dalliance with his wife on the set of a movie. The plan is to destroy Reagan’s reputation and then kill him once he is hated by all. The script attempts some Hollywood satire and makes some obvious commentary on the whole tabloid and celebrity world, but mostly it comes off as a bit self-indulgent.

There are some flashes of interesting moments, mostly involving Stephen Grush as the second hillbilly with homosexual overtures towards Reagan. Unfortunately, the film does not take advantage of the colorful swamp setting and instead takes place almost entirely within the run down cabin. You will note dashes of Deliverance, Black Snake Moan, and Misery, but this one isn’t at that level. Instead it comes off like a bucket list item for Phillippe … director/writer/producer/star of his own film.

Available now on video and on demand.

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