Quick Movie Review: ‘Gehenna: Where Death Lives’ by Hiroshi Katagiri

A little peak behind the curtain over here at 8Asians: we get sent press releases on anything Asian or Asian American—be it a book, movie, comic book, graphic novel or new business. Most of it isn’t worth paying attention to. But when it comes to horror movies, our fearless editor Joz knows how much I love them and forwards them for me to review.

That’s how Gehenna: Where Death Lives ended up in my email. The movie is being released nationally on Friday, May 4, 2018 in theaters and on demand. The film is about five people (three developers, one shady businessman, and a local) who enter a hidden World War II bunker in Saipan, and realize it’s way more than a bunker. The film is the directorial debut of Hiroshi Katagiri, who previously did special effects for Jurassic Park III, Pacific Rim, and others, and stars Doug Jones, the star of the Academy Award winning The Shape of Water.

The movie starts a bit slowly but picks up once—and I’m not giving away anything here—they get trapped in the bunker after disrespecting the locals and the local legends. There are just enough jump scares and creepy moments to satisfy a horror fan’s lust for scares. I’m not sure I totally understood the legend underlying the film, but when I figured out the twist in the end it made the whole thing worth watching.

What fascinated me most about the movie though was Saipan. First, it was sooooooooooooo beautiful. I kept asking myself, how did I not know about this place? Once I got past its beauty, I was struck by how little I knew about the island. During the movie, I found myself Googling its history—especially what happened during the second World War. But what blew me away most was that I didn’t even realize it was part of the United States.  In fact, I found a Huffington Post article that called it the most beautiful place in America that no one has heard of. I guess I know where I’m going on my next family vacation.

Follow me on Twitter at @ksakai1.

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About Koji Steven Sakai

Writer/Producer Koji Steven Sakai is the founder of Little Nalu Pictures LLC and the CEO of CHOPSO (www.CHOPSO.com), the first Asian English streaming video service. He has written five feature films that have been produced, including the indie hit, The People I’ve Slept With. He also produced three feature films, a one hour comedy special currently on Netflix, and Comedy InvAsian, a live and filmed series featuring the nation’s top Asian American comedians. Koji’s debut novel, Romeo & Juliet Vs. Zombies, was released in paperback in 2015 and in audiobook in 2016 and his graphic novel, 442, was released in 2017. In addition, he is currently an adjunct professor in screenwriting at International Technological University in San Jose.
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