Who said Argentina wasn’t an exporter of horror movies? Already in 2022 Argentina has given the genre the mixed bag that was On The 3rd Day and the very good zombie thriller, Virus-32. Now the Argentinian Satanic metal horror flick Welcome to Hell is available to stream on the relatively new source for horror, Screambox. Of course, the Devil, heavy metal, and horror make for a winning combination. Trick R’ Treat, The Devil’s Candy, We Summon the Darkness, Lords of Chaos, and Deathgasm all plugged horror into some cranked amps with mostly good results. Without much in the way of advanced hype, Welcome to Hell looks to take a more straight approach to its blending of horror and devil horns than some past movies.
Outside a small Argentinian village, Lucia lives with her mute grandmother in remote cabin. Several months pregnant, Lucia seems intent on living under the radar and away from gazing eyes. And there’s a good reason to hide. The father of her unborn child, an enigmatic death metal signer named Monk, is looking for her. Both Monk and his bandmates are dangerously obsessed with the occult and dark rituals. Now Monk wants Lucia and her unborn child for a ritual and he will stop at nothing to find her.
Welcome to Hell Overcomes Familiarity with Quietly Confident Style
From its opening scene, Welcome to Hell grabs audiences by the throat before quickly cutting to an appropriately-themed Grindhouse title card. After its unsettling opening, director Jimena Monteoliva – working from Camilo De Cabo’s screenplay – divides the story into two timelines. While one timeline introduces us to the Lucia’s lonely existence and strained relationship with her grandmother, the other shows Lucia meeting and falling under Monk’s charismatic spell. No, intersecting or non-linear storylines are nothing new. But the narrative approach allows Welcome to Hell to at least add some mystery to what’s initially a familiar tale. Anyone who’s watched enough horror movies – or even just a handful – can likely guess that Monk and his bandmates intend to dabble in the occult. By and large, Welcome to Hell is a pretty familiar movie.
But the narrative approach allows Welcome to Hell to at least add some mystery to what’s initially a familiar tale.
What separates Welcome to Hell from less horror movies over its first two-thirds is Monteoliva’s visual style and tone. Monteoliva opts for a sparse, slow burn that contrasts the bright isolation of the Argentinian woods with the dank squalor of Monk’s urban hangouts. Most of the horror iconography on display is exactly what you’d expect. There’s animal skulls, scary things spoken and written in Latin, and the general theatricality of Monk’s death metal bandmates. Nevertheless, Monteoliva wrings more than enough discomfort from the imagery. In addition, there’s atmosphere to spare, which sustains the movie until its final act.
Welcome to Hell Will Likely Divide Audiences with its Final Act
Once Welcome to Hell reaches its third act Monteoliva and De Cabo seem to go in an even more familiar direction. The dark thriller turns into a conventional home invasion movie pitting Monk’s bandmates against Lucia and her grandmother. Though it’s conventional Monteoliva once again knows how to make the familiar intriguing. The cat-and-mouse game offers up tension and the violence, which is surprisingly minimal, is used to good effect. And then Welcome to Hell pulls the rug out from under the audience. Whether the Shyamalan-esque twist works will likely depend on who’s watching. Certainly, the twist is fun and unexpected. Yet it also feels like something out of a middling episode of The Twilight Zone.
Whether the Shyamalan-esque twist works will likely depend on who’s watching.
If the twist proves to be divisive, there’s not disputing the performances. As the pregnant Lucia, Costanza Cardillo gives the kind of layered performance that makes the character feel real in spite of the movie’s increasingly unhinged premise. Much of the movie’s familiar horror tropes work due to Demián Salomón’s portrayal of Monk. Welcome to Hell requires Monk to be charismatic – we need to believe Lucia could fall for him – while still exuding danger. Too bad Monk’s bandmates come off as more oafish than chilling.
Welcome to Hell Works Even If Its Twist Does Not
One can nitpick at some the movie’s familiarity or even its twist, but Welcome to Hell still works as an engaging, and often unsettling, movie. All of the performances are much than what you’d likely find in a comparable Hollywood horror effort. Salomón’s genuinely creepy Monk contrasts well with Cardillo’s strong Lucia. There’s also a quiet style on display that always ensures that this is a watchable thriller. Even if the twist frustrates some viewers Welcome to Hell more than earns a recommendation.