All hell broke loose in University Crossings for a screening of the new independent horror flick “Six Degrees of Hell.” Many of the cast and crew were in attendance, including film instructor John Avarese, who worked on the film’s sound and score. The screening was prefaced by a phone call from actor Corey Feldman (“Stand by Me,” “The Goonies,” “The Lost Boys”) in character as Kyle Brenner, paranormal investigator.
Also in attendance was Joe Raffa, who produced and directed the film and plays the role of smart-mouthed bad boy Kellen Hudson. “Six Degrees of Hell” displays the cinematic aptitude of the twentysomething Renaissance man with a host of credits under his belt, ranging from editing to cinematography and just about everything in between.
The film follows six main characters. June, a young clairvoyant played by Nicole Cinaglia, is the main character. While on an intimate getaway, June and her friends get drunk and decide to dabble in her psychic abilities, setting off a supernatural domino effect surrounding a local tourist attraction. The Hotel of Horrors, owned by endearing skeptic Uncle Jack (Brian Gallagher), holds a secret deeper than anyone could have suspected.
Meanwhile, “Dead TV,” a local TV show investigating occult occurrences, follows the possession of a local teen. Host Erik Sanborn (Kyle Patrick Brennan) discovers that the paranormal activity just may hit closer to home than he anticipated. When Erik crosses paths with June, they are thrust into a spiral of discovery, which leads to answers they soon regret seeking. Though “Six Degrees of Hell” is not short on gasp-inducing, adrenaline-pumping shockers, it’s also a film that doesn’t take itself too seriously. A lot of laughs are woven into the script to break up the tension in a refreshing way. The film is a breath of fresh air for the world of horror, yet at the same time it manages to pay homage to several horror classics. Traces of “Carrie,” “Freaks” and even “Killer Clowns from Outer Space” can be spotted. These elements are borrowed respectfully and reworked in a way that is uniquely “Six Degrees of Hell.”
The casting was well done. Raffa positioned seasoned stars like Corey Feldman and Brian Anthony Wilson (“The Wire”) away from the main events to underscore and tie together the story and highlight the cast’s rising talent. Raffa’s performance makes his character much more likeable than he ought to be, and Kyle Patrick Brennan, who could charm life into a corpse, is the epitome of a leading man.
To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed “Six Degrees of Hell.” The film made the most of a humble budget and the many resources Pennsylvania has to offer, like the actual Hotel of Horror in the Poconos and many native actors. Nothing about this film is predictable. Don’t even try to guess who’s going to die, who is going to end up with whom or how the film will end — you will be wrong. If you’re interested in getting your hands on “Six Degrees of Hell,” visit www.sixdegreesmovie.com and check out the film’s official YouTube channel.