Imagine Deliverance, Black Snake Moan, and JCVD re-envisioned through the satirical haze of Robert Altman, these are the heavy influences of Ryan Phillippe’s directorial debut. Shot on a small budget and confined to limited actors and locations, Catch Hell is a hell of a lot better than it probably should have turned out. Recently fellow thespian turned first time helmer Ryan Gosling spawned the horrendous Lost River, at least Phillipe’s foray is literate, structured and not out to punish its audience, only its lead character and by extension Phillippe himself.
Reagan Pierce (Phillippe) is a former ‘it boy’ in Hollywood, the once teen matinée sex symbol has now matured into his late thirties and right out of the studio’s list of headliners. Desperate for a job following a stint in rehab, Reagan takes a part in a low-budget production shooting in Shavenport, Louisiana. He is picked up for the first day of shooting and everything seems good, until Reagan realizes that his drivers are actually kidnapping him and transporting him to a remote cabin deep in the swap lands.
Chained to a bed and physically tortured, the actor must survive the torment bestowed on him by his two attackers, a man (Ian Barford) bent on ruining Reagan’s life literally and figuratively and his dim-witted red-neck nephew (Stephen Louis Grush). As word spreads through Hollywood gossip circles of another meltdown by the trouble prone Pierce, the actor is in reality fighting for his life and looking for a chance to escape the hell he has in some part created for himself.
Catch Hell hits all the beats that are hallmark’s of the sub-genre. The fact that Phillippe is able to mount sequences of tension, laced with sexual sub-text is far trickier than anything accomplished in Gosling’s Lost River. Sure, this is exploitation cinema. However, the actor/director/ writer puts himself front and center in a semi-autobiographical role that serves as a reminder of the talent and a glimpse of a storyteller in the making.
Director: Ryan Phillippe
Stars: Ryan Phillippe, Stephen Louis Grush, Ian Barford