Starring: Bruce Payne, Tracy Scoggins, Julia Lee and Gregory Wagrowski
CDA Entertainment

Certificate: 18
Available now

Medical student James Bishop, with a view to obtaining his doctorate, begins a residency at the notorious St. Andrews hospital for the criminally insane. He is offered access to low-risk patients, but is only interested in A-Ward. As his work progresses, uncovering a string of mysterious deaths as a result of heart attacks, Bishop learns that the ravings of these madmen are worth listening to...

The most accurate way to describe Hellborn is as a cross between Michael Crighton's Coma and the sixties film version of Tales From The Crypt. We have the hospital - or, in this case, mental asylum - harbouring a terrible secret. This first part might persuade you the plot involves the uncovering of corruption, bad-management and mistreatment, if not for the teaser prologue. In fact, when the key character first arrives, there is the disorientation of not knowing who are the doctors and who the patients.

Then there's the white-robed cult preparing victims for the demon representative of Satan. Like Doctor Who's the Destroyer, it looks very impressive but doesn't really do much. It takes what seems like an age to stomp across the floor, giving anyone with the will to survive time to pack their suitcase before running from the room. It burns a massive handprint in the chest of the relevant victim, stealing the soul for its master. Exactly why, I've yet to comprehend.

Much as I like horror and the supernatural, there's no convincing plot here, and nothing really new enough in terms of ideas to make you sit up and take notice. The film tagline is Forgotten Rooms, Dark Hallways, Hellborn. All I have to say to that is, "Eh?" The cover blurb also takes great pains to tell us the film employs the special effects creator of Jeepers Creepers. Much as he may be a talent, you get the feeling this is an unnecessary grasp for a publicity selling-point. Learn to ignore these signs, because even big name actors can and often do appear in bad films.

Accept this film on its own merits, and enjoy the first half, before it gets silly. There's little or no tension in the entire 82 minute duration, and this is helped little by the stereotypical clichéd dialogue which pops up from cover to catch you unawares and remind you that what you are watching never reaches above average. Make certain you act surprised when the main doctor is revealed to be the leader of the cult. Oops, I let the cat out of the bag; you would never have guessed otherwise.

Ty Power