The gates of Hell prove more welcoming than usual in “The Other Side,” a lean, propulsively paced supernatural thriller that exploits its own modest resources with nasty relish. Offsetting its corny humor and even cornier romance with enough bloody mayhem to satiate gore aficionados, cheaply made pic should entertain midnight fest crowds before finding a shelf in the homevid afterlife.
A rude homecoming awaits Columbia U. student Sam North (Nathan Mobley), whose girlfriend Hanna (Jaimie Alexander) goes missing shortly before they’re supposed to meet, and who himself is killed the same night by a van that runs his car into a river.
A frenzied montage shows Sam being reborn in a slimy cave, only to find himself being pushed through a mysterious portal back to the land of the living. He awakens in a hospital, along with several other denizens of “the pit” who have managed to escape.
But the pit surrenders no one easily, and soon a trio of Reapers, leather-clad assassins with body-switching capabilities, are hunting the refugees down one by one and sending them back. Sam teams up with seasoned escapees Oz (Poncho Hodges) and Mally (Cory Rouse) — the stoic fighter and the annoying comic relief, respectively — and determines to find out who is behind his death and Hanna’s disappearance.
Pic’s bat-out-of-hell pacing, so to speak, could only have benefited from its rapid shooting schedule, while the low budget makes Nils Onsager’s crazily resourceful stunt work — including one truly death-defying leap — all the more impressive. Fight choreography also displays some impressive kung-fu flourishes, although Sam is a bit too impervious to bullets fired at point-blank range.
Sherman Johnson’s Super 16 cinematography delivers a grainy, desaturated look that is entirely appropriate to the story’s B-movie sensibility. Kristopher Carter’s music drums up the requisite pulse-pounding excitement during the action sequences, only to degenerate into Enya-esque accompaniment during the goopy romantic finale.