Ok people, here goes my first review ever… “Down To Hell” is the 46 minute shot-on-video short by Ryuhei Kitamura, better known for the underground cult smash “Versus”. Shot in 1996, Kitamura used this short as a training ground for “Road To Hell 2”, which later took on the title “Versus”. While the two movies follow radically different storylines, the direction has Kitamura’s trademark style; tight editing, unique camera angles and plenty of gore. Story: A ruthless gang of thugs captures an unsuspecting citizen off the back alley of a large urban environment. The “prisoner” is taken deep into a dark forest, where he is given a chance to play their “most dangerous game”. Given three options, he can: 1) Run away. 2) Fight the gang of four. 3) Let thugs kill him right away. To prove that this scenario is serious, one of the thugs breaks his finger. To build the suspense, the “prisoner” is given a 10 minute grace period to run away, while thugs load up their weapons and prepare for battle. Once the hunt begins, the “prisoner” is found and killed right away. Make no mistake, this guy is no prisoner KSC2-303, his couldn’t fight his way out of box, let alone a murderous gang of four. As the gang regroups, they discover the body is missing and separate to locate it. Slowly, each thug realizes that something is not right about the forest and after hunting down and killing hundreds of innocent people here, they themselves have become the hunted… Thoughts: I enjoyed this short film, it’s not in the same league as “Versus”, but it has a gritty, human survival feel that Kitamura captures quite well. I found myself wanting to see the “prisoner” escape then feeling sorry for the gang of thugs as they experience “instant karma”. For a shot-on video release, it has enough interesting cuts and effects to keep your attention. The gore is heavy, but not the same quality found in “Versus”. (Although there’s a scene that follows the intestine death found in “Riki Oh” which is pretty fun to watch). Filled with suspense, this is an amazing first effort by Ryuhei Kitamura. Audio ~ Video: As stated, this was shot on video and appears to be run-through video editing software that converters video from 29.97 frames to 25 and adds grain. The result is a more fluid (read: film-like) quality that washes out most of the color. Some scenes looks black & white, others have a touch of color. Overall, most of the film looks like it was shot on low-end 8MM film. As for the audio, it’s clear and crisp. Without the sound effects and amazing score, this short would have suffered greatly. Extras: A trailer for “Down To Hell” which is very long and pretty much sums up the entire movie in 5 minutes. Also found is the hilarious “Down To Hell 2”, which is ultra low-budget trailer for what was to become “Versus”. Shot on video, it has all the cast members from “Versus” posing with guns and swords with cheesy lighting throughout. It looks like something you would find on a public-access channel, I’m dead serious! Final Thoughts: If you loved “Versus”, this is a must buy. It offer’s great insight to the process that occurred leading to the making of “Versus”, and has a cool little storyline that varies greatly from Kitamura’s sophomore effort. If you’re not into “Versus”, take a chance – the storyline is good enough to entertain you for 45 minutes. Thanks for reading my review, please let me know what you think about the movie!