While the concept and vision of hell are different for every person, there's one thing for certain: it's not a fun place to be. Here are 17 films with the most realistic visions of hell in cinema.
1. Mad God (2021)
A stop motion animated film by Phil Tippett, a visual effects legend, its plot is a vague one. The film itself is bleak and disturbing, and offers no sort of hope for the viewer. Add in the fact there are only monsters and horrifying imagery, and it's an ideal mix for all the nightmares.
2. All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989)
We all love to sit down and watch a happy movie, but “All Dogs Go to Heaven” has its bleak moments, especially when Charlie is dreaming about hell. Complete with the classic fire and brimstone version of down below, it's enough to scare the pants off of little children.
3. Jigoku (1960)
According to a user, “The hell scenes are intense” as the movie intertwines the stories of several sinners on the verge of death and descending into hell. This film is famous for its vivid and striking portrayal of tormented individuals swirling amidst molten lava. Moreover, it is recognized as a pioneering movie that extensively employs full-color gore.
4. Event Horizon (1997)
While this horror movie suggests the presence of hell, its initial 150 minutes runtime was cut to 90 due to complaints about the gory scenes. A crew of astronauts is dispatched to explore a mysterious spacecraft that reappears close to Neptune's decaying orbit.
5. What Dreams May Come (1998)
Richard Matheson's novel inspired this film about hell to receive an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects due to how vividly it portrayed the underworld. Chris Nielsen, who awakens in heaven after his demise, sets out on a journey to rescue his wife, who is sent to hell on her demise. He crosses a broad plain filled with spectral faces in one stunning sight as they scream for him to halt.
6. Constantine (2005)
Keanu Reeves plays the complex role of John Constantine, a demon hunter and suicide survivor who has been to hell and back after making an unsuccessful attempt to end his life. But now that he's alive and out of hell, he has one goal: to please God enough to earn forgiveness and a spot in heaven. Otherwise, it's to hell with him.
7. Jacob's Ladder (1990)
Jacob Singer, a Vietnam War veteran, is portrayed by Tim Robbins. Traumatized by a vicious Viet Cong attack on his battalion, he returns to New York City only to be plagued by gruesome hallucinations and flashbacks. In an attempt to assist him, a friend visits him in a mental facility and shares Meister Eckhart's description of hell. You can categorize this as belonging to the “hell as a state of mind” group. The uncertainty of whether Jacob can escape his hell before things go so bad that he's permanently condemned creates the majority of the movie's tension.
8. Dante's Inferno: An Animated Epic (2010)
The main character in the story is Dante, who finds his family members dead upon his return from the Third Crusade and his beloved Beatrice slowly deteriorating from a knife wound. Dante is abruptly confronted by the poet Virgil, who offers to be his tour guide through hell after Satan snatches and drags Beatrice to hell as she dies. They travel through all the nine circles as Dante desperately tries to save his girlfriend from an eternity in hell.
9. As Above, So Below (2014)
Their search for the Philosopher's Stone took archeologist Scarlett Marlowe and her team into a 180-mile system of tunnels supposedly containing about six million corpses. This quest for a stone that could turn dust into gold and grant its holder eternal life took Marlowe through what they confessed to be a living hell.
10. The Ninth Gate (1997)
Rare book dealer Dean Corso (Johnny Depp) is looking for the last two copies of a book that has the potential to summon the devil. As a result, he soon finds himself at the center of strange events and ultimately encounters the most terrifying version of the afterlife.
11. 1408 (2007)
Based on the short novel of the same name by Stephen King, 1408 follows Mike Enslin, a paranormal investigator, and author played by John Cusack, as he spends a night in an acclaimed haunted room at an ordinarily secure hotel. Enslin plans to be the first person to survive for over an hour. However, with the room's reputation, Enslin is only left with two choices: end things for himself or perpetually go through that personal hell. He chose a third option – lighting the room on fire; he gave it hell.
12. Drag Me to Hell (2009)
Believing she has escaped a witch's wrath curse, Christine Brown trips over some railroad rails. She is being dragged down while screaming as hands emerge from the stones between the tracks. Everything happened so fast that her death and damnation have a lasting effect long after the audience has stopped watching the film.
13. Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)
Ashley Laurence reprises her role as Kirsty Cotton from the prequel, but with greater control this time. She's leading a one-woman charge into the desolate wilderness of hell to save a child instead of having her family taken away without her awareness. As shown in the movie, Hell is genuinely terrible in its emptiness. It is made up of hallways, walls, concrete steps, and the chilly outside, like a surrealist picture that has come to life.
14. Legend (1985)
By eliminating the last of the unicorns, Darkness (Tim Curry) aims to create an endless night promising to unleash hell on Earth. To fight off Darkness and protect the world and Princess Lili, Jack (Tom Cruise) and his comrades exert every effort. One of the most beautiful depictions of hell ever shown on film is the film's bleak, almost serpentine version.
15. The Sentinel (1977)
The innocent-looking brownstone in Brooklyn seems the gateway to hell. When Alison Parker begins experiencing devilish hallucinations in different parts of the building, she is initially written off as crazy. When it appears she has killed someone, she is also initially suspected of murder. However, when she also discovers the sudden ability to read Latin, a discerning priest begins to suspect that Alison is demon-possessed and the apartment building is merely a portal to hell.
16. The Frighteners (1996)
An architect who lost his wife in a car accident learns that the tragedy has given him the capacity to see ghosts. To stop a murderer who has returned from the dead for an onslaught, he must work with a group of sympathetic spirits. Hell is a location in this movie; it is the slimy, quaking interior of a massive, biting worm.
17. Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (1991)
In this sequel, robot replicas of Bill and Ted mysteriously take their places. They appear to be falling through a black hole for minutes before their physical selves finally touch the ground in hell. They are surprised to find the entire location to be much less impressive than they had anticipated.
Amaka Chukwuma is a finance and lifestyle writer with a real knack for the craft. She's been at it for over four years, making her mark on places like FinanceBuzz and The Buttonwood Tree, not to mention some cool collaborations with various brands. Her. Her work with Wealth of Geeks has been widely appreciated, with syndication across multiple platforms and publications. Amaka's got a BA in Linguistics. When she's taking a break from her writing adventures, you'll probably find her digging into some delicious pies or exploring the food scene. Want to see what she's up to or get a taste of her work? Hit her up on LinkedIn and Twitter.