Other Side, The

Reviewed By Scott Weinberg
Posted 01/27/06 19:14:22

"There's enough stuff in here to make three solid b-movies."
4 stars (Worth A Look)

SCREENED AT THE 2006 SLAMDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: It's a good thing that originality doesn't account for everything in a genre flick, because Gregg Bishop's "The Other Side" is constructed with spare parts from about twelve different (and fairly recognizable) movies. But despite that, it still makes for a pretty good b-movie time -- unless you have no interest at all in a horror/action flick about a dude who escapes from hell to track down his girlfriend's murderer, only to find himself pursued by three of Satan's most tenacious bounty hunters.

Gregg Bishop, who banged out two short films about seven years ago, clearly put a lot of time and effort into The Other Side. Press kits indicate that the young Mr. Bishop not only directed this, his first feature-length film, but also co-wrote, edited, and shot the thing, too. And it takes all of 11 minutes before an astute genre geek (like me) notices two things:

1. The guy's got some actual talent.

2. He clearly doesn't mind borrowing concepts from some of his favorite genre films.

As The Other Side unspooled, my mental checklist jotted down The Matrix, The Hidden, Jacob's Ladder, The Terminator, Hellraiser, and even Final Destination as its fairly obvious inspirations, to which my inner geek responded "So what? At least this Bishop guy has good taste in movies!" Plus The Other Side, despite its numerous pieces of cinematic familiarity, manages to forge just enough ground of its own to keep things fast-paced, creative, and surprisingly entertaining.

The story, as mentioned above, is about a lovestruck everyguy who, while awaiting a romantic rendezvous with his fiancee, is smashed by a van and sent straight to Hell. There he meets a bunch of wide-eyed escapees who spirit him out of "The Pit" and back into the real world, where our hero promptly discovers that his lovely little girlfriend has turned up kidnapped ... and most likely murdered.

If that's not enough plot for you, try this outfit on: Not only does our protagonist have to worry about finding his girlfriend, but he and his newfound refugees from Hades must stay one step ahead of Satan's most ass-kickinest minions: a trio of shape-shifting corpse-jumpers who are as slickly invincible as they are violently relentless. Toss in some "family secret" backstory and a generous parcel of scrappy action sequences, and you're looking at a pretty darn entertaining movie (of the drive-in variety, of course, but we can always use a new drive-in flick, can't we?)

True, a few of the acting performances are ... let's be kind and say "iffy," and, yes, it's plainly evident that The Other Side was constructed with limited funds, but it still exudes a pugnacious and playful approach that should tickle anyone who loves the same movies that Gregg Bishop so obviously does.

"The Other Side" is the b-movie equivalent of an overstuffed Halloween goody bag that's been spilled all over the carpet. It's colorfully kinetic, strangely engaging, and, despite its low-budget leanings, rather enjoyable throughout. I suspect this Bishop guy could do some real entertaining damage with a studio-backed budget, and I hope one day he gets a chance to prove me right.

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