When you thought one skyscraper movie was enough…
Synopsis: Disaster strikes a downtown skyscraper when a gas leak causes a ferocious explosion setting ablaze the towering mass of metal and glass. On the 20th floor Brianna and Tom a couple in the middle of a divorce settlement are forced to work together to help save their two children, Anne and Ben, who are both trapped in the building’s elevator hovering 20 stories above ground. Together Brianna and Tom must fight to stay alive while teaming up to save their children and escape the towering inferno. (High Octane Pictures)
Starring: Claire Forlani, Jamie Bamber, and Riley Jackson
Writers: Regina Luvitt and Phillip J. Roth
Director: Eric Summer
Running Time: 92mins
The undying cesspool of a category known as “Video On Demand” is a very strange and curious thing. It consists of every genre known to man that are mostly created by amateurs and up and comers of the filmmaking art. The category has a reputation for featuring cinema of extremely poor quality, this is almost always due to low budgets and poor execution with minimal materials or access to the appropriate instruments. Every once in a blue moon, there is a project that acts as a sparkling diamond and shines through the rubble its trapped in. Case in point Inferno: Skyscraper Escape, a piece that blatantly banks off the extraordinary hype for the latest Dwayne Johnson flick. Don’t let that fool you though, because this a film that’s truly special, in many different ways and for many different reasons; none of them being intentional.
Buried deep behind the terrible dialogue, awkward editing choices and absolutely horrendous attempts at sentimentality, there is something very strange going on here. That strangeness eventually transforms into a visual representation of a misguided but well-meaning attempt to create a Hollywood spectacle. Those spectacles, of course, require a great sum of money that these filmmakers obviously lacked. This is especially unfortunate because those same individuals aren’t aware of the first thing about budget utilization either. At the end of that unfortunate series, the silver living is everyone involved becoming far too confident with the material. This leads to the already painful dialogue becoming layered over with a bold and italicization treatment; everyone wants every syllable to stand out, most likely to try and score some award season acknowledgment (more like a Razzie though, in the long run).
That strangeness further elaborates, this time in the for the sake of emotion. This film doesn’t spend time developing its characters. Instead, it feels the need to emotionally manipulate and immorally exploit its audience by making comparisons to the tragedy of September 11th, 2001. These immoral and annoying characters distastefully discuss the event once the main narrative kicks off. This type of scatterbrained and paranoid dialogue might work in a film that has some relation to the tragedy but you can’t help but roll your eyes when films with a biased agenda banks off of terrible events. Outside of these moments of outrage, there’s much more in the written material that goes beyond well-meaning incompetence. Reminiscing on the feature, there were a great handful of scenes that featured pseudo-intellectual villain monologues, cringe-worthy attempts at sibling conversation and plot devices that dissolve into plot conveniences. So take that as you will.
Green screen animation and CGI has never been friendly to these types of films and that is increasingly apparent here. The lack of budget shines through every attempted spectacle of chaos that features visual effects that seem more like post-production tricks rather than actual events. This happens many times throughout the film and it will dropkick any interest or investments you had left in the film far out into the atmosphere. The reaction the actors involved respond to this grossly alarming scenario are also noticeably underacted; they only react appropriately when partnered with the possibility of long words and melodrama via dialogue.
At the end of the day, Inferno is repulsive. Unintentionally entertaining, partially due to just how easy it is to gawk at its idiocy, but still shockingly misinformed. Cheap, purposeless Video On Demand entertainment only gets better than this on one occasion; it works best when what’s presented can be serviceable on a surface level. Even though it’s leaving an acidic and persistent taste in your throat, it’s hard to forget about any of the scenes in the film, no matter how hard you try. This leaves an afterward effect that is difficult to articulate.
I hope to never witness anything like this ever again. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I may need to call a priest to perform an exorcism on me, to get the demon known as Inferno out of my body. Just a warning, this movie is also called Crystal Inferno in other countries so watch out!