Escape from Hell, Part 4
With his makeshift Death Chamber/Resurrection Chamber set up, Eric calls Carl. The following exchange is GLORIOUS, and it must be borne in mind that Carl plays it completely straight and completely casual.
“Carl, it’s Eric.”
“Hey, old buddy! I just got off work. Where are you?”
“In the boiler room. I might need your help with something.”
“Sure, what do you need?”
Is Carl not the most awesome friend in the world??? “Hey, pal! What can I help you with, in a strange place we’ve never been before?”
Eric coldly explains that he is going to shoot himself up with “a potassium-cyanide bolus cocktail.” (If you are like me and wonder what a bolus is, it is this.) Carl (understandably) yells at Eric not to do it, but Eric, still cold and resolute, tells Carl that “you’re going to bring me back” and “everything you need is right here.”
Eric does not deserve a friend as awesome as Carl. It is hard to imagine a more selfish and manipulative and cruel act than poisoning yourself, then telling your best friend that he will bring you back. What if Carl can’t do it, or even just can’t get there in time? CARL is the one who has to live with that.
Look, I know that Eric thinks this is The Only Way To Learn The Truth, but that doesn’t make him less of a jerk. Turns out he takes after his old man after all.
Carl sprints back into the hospital, as well he might, and grabs Marissa on his way to the boiler room. Meanwhile, Eric flatlines, flies out of the hospital (seeing the “Loose Lips Sink Ships” sign on the way out), makes his very own trip down the Sliders tunnel…
And hears demonic voices telling him there is no hope, like Blondie, right?
Ummm…has fireballs rush at his head, like Garrison, right?
Instead, Eric is transported to a pretty meadow with mountains in the background, utterly alone.
“Oh, Carl, don’t bring me back! Please, if you love me, buddy, don’t bring me back! This place is beautiful!”
Personally, I think the woods Eric was
hiking fleeing like a startled puppy through earlier were much prettier, but I guess that’s why I’m not a born-again Christian.
Eric explains it all to the black preacher (I had almost forgotten he was part of this film:
“It was surreal. No, it was better than that.”
I’ve never thought of “surreal” as an inherently good thing…
“It was like everything I had ever seen or felt or tasted was a mere shadow of what this was.”
Ah, Eric is well on his way to being a RTC, as he embraces the idea that this world we have is a waiting room, just a boring place to wipe your feet and wait for Heaven.
As Carl and Marissa (well, mostly Carl) attempt to revive Eric, yet another angel appears to Eric in the meadow. This is a chunky middle-aged angel, not the skinny high-school angel of the blind Christian lady, but he has the same message: it’s not Eric’s time yet.
Still not impressed.
Eric turns around, and a gateway to Hell opens up. Sadly, Buffy is not there to close it back up again.
And, of course, AT THAT VERY MOMENT, Eric’s mom feels compelled to hit her knees for her boy. Because her Christianity grants her MAGICAL SUPERPOWERS that tell her when her kid is making a stopover in Hell.
By the way, none of this makes any sense. I mean, of course it doesn’t, since we’re talking about trips to Hell and back, but I mean…why is Eric experiencing something so radically different from any of the other people we have encountered, both Christian and not? Garrison and Blondie weren’t faked out to this extent–Garrison had happy thoughts, but got no glimpse of Heaven before the fireballs got him. The blind Christian lady saw Heaven floating in outer space, not as some meadow. This whole thing, in fact, seems to support Eric’s earlier assertion that people make their own Heavens and Hells, but that flies in the face of the doctrine the movie wants us to accept–that there Heaven and Hell are real places, not products of the human mind.
But hey, they had a $8.50 special effects budget, and dammit, they wanted to use it.
Eric finds himself in a very typical Hell setpiece, with screaming in the background, and the Gregorian chanters from the opening credits ahh-ahh-ing. He looks around, utterly flabbergasted, like he’s surprised that Hell sucks.
“Carl, if you can hear me, you gotta get me outta here.”
Come here, go away—it’s a pattern with Eric.
Eric encounters a Random Guy who is being eaten from the inside out by worm things crawling under his skin. I’d say “ewww,” as I am normally freaked out by bugs, but the effect is really bad. And not even in a fun, goofy way. It’s just like a simple child’s drawing.
“Draw a worm.” *squiggly line* “Done.”
Eric, who apparently is no hero in Hell, doesn’t even try to help Random Guy, and runs off in the opposite direction, only to be blasted by a Hunger-Gamesy wall of fire.
But he’s fine.
So is Random Guy, who wanders up (no hard feelings!) and explains that sometimes people are tortured, and sometimes the demons let up, to “let the fear torture you.” Okay, I guess, but isn’t relief…relief, even if you know more pain is coming? Don’t look a gift horse in then mouth, is all I’m saying.
Random Guy tells his story:
“Two friends and I decided to get together and try some heroin. My first time, and I O.D. But I think the real reason that I’m here is because all those times I should have been paying attention to the sermons, I was paying attention to Leslie Wilson in the third pew.”
I’m pretty sure this wasn’t the filmmakers’ intent, but I can’t help but observe that “Leslie” is one of those names that is used for both boys and girls, and am tempted to draw my own conclusions about why Random Guy is in RTC Hell.
Eric and Random Guy wander off together, only to stumble upon Garrison, who, loving husband and father that he was, is being tortured by being turned into a tree and back again.
Hey, don’t look at me—I didn’t make this up.
“I’m Harold. The tree’s name is Bob.”
Random Guy shows Eric how he can see Garrison’s memories by touching him. (Wut? Again, I didn’t make this up: Gene Roddenberry came up with mind melds, not me.) Anyway, Eric sees that Garrison was witnessed to by a friend not too long ago.
And because Garrison politely declined the proselytizing, HE DESERVES TO BE TORTURED FOREVER.
It all makes perfect sense.
Oh, and at one point, Garrison was relaxing on his couch, and chose to watch a football game rather than a TV preacher.
(Hey, by that logic, I should be a shoe-in for Heaven. I’ve watched waaay more Christian movies than many Christians! 😀 )
Eric asks to see his dad, who “may be here.” Random Guy confirms that he is not there, and when Eric questions his certainty on this issue, Random Guy reveals that HE WAS A DEMON ALL ALONG MWOO-HA-HA-HA-HAAAA
Not as scary as the serial killer angel from Second Glance.
Just as Random Demon is about to rip Eric a hellish new one, Eric is sucked almost all the way back into his body by Carl’s tireless efforts. But first, Eric is met again by the middle-aged angel. Eric asks one more time to see his father, and the angel says that is not possible, but that…
“You father loves you and forgives you, just as your heavenly father does, if you’d only ask.”
Oh, that’s nice WHY IS ERIC’S FATHER FORGIVING HIM WHEN ERIC DID NOTHING WRONG GAAAAHHHHHHH
Finally, Eric wakes up in his own body (and back at the beginning of the movie). But the demon has followed him, which is why Eric fled to the church.
“Isn’t a church supposed to be holy ground?”
The preacher actually laughs at this, and says no, that it depends on what is inside a person, not inside a building, so I can only assume that he has a lot of experience with people fleeing demons in his church.
As Carl and Marissa speed towards the church (using the ambulance’s GPS tracker, I think), Eric hears whispering and knows the demon has arrived. Dark clouds cover the walls of the church and the preacher actually looks a little freaked out, because I guess all those other demon attacks were small-time, but NOW shit is real.
But the fear doesn’t last. PreacherMan tells the demon that he is covered in the blood of Jesus (ew) and his name is in the Book of
Love Life and so the demon better just step down.
AND THE DEMON TOTALLY DOES
It is just as simple as that.
PreacherMan knows an opportunity for a hard sell when he sees one, and tells Eric that the demon can still get him, unless he gives his life to Jesus.
Does it really count as salvation if it is motivated so much by fear? I didn’t think that was how it worked.
But lest we think Eric is solely motivated by fear, he mentions wanting to be with his father. I am insulted for his mother’s sake that he doesn’t mention her, too. She’s the one who raised him, who didn’t abandon him, who has always had a great relationship with him, but it’s not motivation to be with her in Heaven that compels Eric. No, he wants to be with JerkDad.
I don’t like Eric any more.
PreacherMan leads Eric in prayer, and it is really hard to see these men pray like that, because Eric is crying real tears and PreacherMan is simply scrunching up his face.
Carl and Marissa rush in, and Eric embraces Marissa. Which would be really sweet except that he tells her, “We need to talk,” and we all know that means only one thing coming from a newly-converted RTC.
Then he hugs both Marissa and Carl and WHY ISN’T ERIC THANKING CARL FOR SAVING HIS LIFE YOU INGRATE AND HORRIBLE FRIEND GORRAMITALL.
Carl deserves better. And I imagine he’ll find it, too, once he unfriends Eric. I can’t imagine Carl putting up with very much Come To Jesus talk. He’s way too cool and content with his own life for that.
Sigh. The end.
Sorry this palate cleanser took so long, everyone. Coming next: The Secret on Ararat!