[Beyond Fest 2023 Review] HOSTILE DIMENSIONS

Scottish filmmaker Graham Hughes‘ fourth feature film, the delightful HOSTILE DIMENSIONS, stars Graham Hughes, Stephen Beavis, Annabel Logan, Joma West, and Andy Stewart. Produced by Evrim Ersoy and Hughes, the latest feature is a horror comedy about literal doorways that become portals to different worlds.

While the film has a decidedly light tone, it is a horror comedy, after all, it does carry a spooky charge of existential dread. When the characters stare through the open door in their flat without the slightest idea of what is really awaiting them on the other side, it’s scary. As human beings, we are all used to the world having certain, very well-defined parameters. Horror, in a lot of ways, is about the everyday reality that we know so well going wildly out of control.

When a serial killer starts stalking a campground, when zombies start to roam the streets looking for lunch, when the werewolf howls, our comforting (and boring) normalcy goes out the window. That’s horror, the destruction or threat of destruction of the norm. Also, the factor of imagination figures into the terror as well. HOSTILE DIMENSIONS wisely gives you ample time to contemplate some of the things that might await our heroes on the other side of the door.

In the film, there’s just something oddly terrifying about a door that opens out into a space that is clearly larger and much different than the small living room that it is placed in. Humans are comfortable with the idea that this is the one world that we have access to, and no one seems inclined to visit. But when the two friends, aspiring documentary filmmakers Sam and Ash, peer through the door, compelled to investigate by their filmmaking instincts and their desire to help the woman who has disappeared, their reaction is caution and wonder that quickly becomes comical when it isn’t unnerving.

HOSTILE DIMENSIONS is a found footage movie since Ash and Sam want to make documentaries and are practicing their desired vocation by investigating the growing mystery. Ash and Sam are sensible Scots who don’t immediately start screaming. Annabel Logan and Joma West are likable and show courage and droll humor, which makes the film even more entertaining. This concept works so well because their characters are so levelheaded.

It’s always good to watch international films because they have different perspectives. One thing I noticed about the characters’ bravery when faced with walking into what could be a highly dangerous situation, their first thought is that they need to check things out and look for the missing woman despite the fact that they are terrified. While many horror films and TV shows in the United States, particularly zombie films and TV shows, have a tendency to show characters cutting their losses when someone is in danger, HOSTILE DIMENSIONS highlights the Scottish characters trying to help someone and not giving up even though they know it’s not safe.

The humor and the sensible goodness of (most) of the characters are refreshing, and the found footage aspect of the film isn’t as “shaky cam” as most other found footage movies, so that’s another plus for people who prefer that. The film is low-budget but still looks really good because the locations, performances, and cinematography are ace.

HOSTILE DIMENSIONS is an original found footage gem that glories in the horror of suggestion and existential crisis with humor and the sensitive gutsiness of its leads, who give wonderfully amusing and sympathetic performances.

HOSTILE DIMENSIONS had its North American Premiere at the 2023 Beyond Fest.

Dolores Quintana
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