Review of Hell’s Half Acre (2023): Is it worth watching for free?

Hell's Half Acre - Courtesy Terror Film
Hell's Half Acre - Courtesy Terror Film /

Hell’s Half Acre is very much a low-budget indie horror movie, but that shouldn’t count against it, right? Some are very watchable. In this review of Hell’s Half Acre, we’ll explore whether this film that released on digital and on demand on Apr. 28, 2023, and is now available to watch for free on Tubi, is worth spending 88 minutes on.

But before we get to the pros and cons of it, let’s take a look at what’s it’s about.

Hell’s Half Acre synopsis

Here’s the movie’s description from Distant Star Films:

"Marcus leads his group of young urban explorers Jessie, Dan, Jose and Cassie to abandoned locations for their popular YouTube channel Strange and Abandoned Places with the goal of gaining ratings and paid sponsors.They quickly discover that the abandoned Rockland Heights Prison is unlike any other location they’ve ever been to before as strange things begin to occur almost immediately after their arrival. They discover they’re not alone as it becomes a fight for their survival against terrifying and dangerous paranormal entities."

Review of Hell’s Half Acre

Hell's Half Acre
Hell’s Half Acre – Courtesy Terror Films /

Even with a budget, movies —horror or otherwise— are hard to get right. A review of Hell’s Half Acre presents a challenge too. It’s easier when the movie is either very good or very bad. Hell’s Half Acre splits the difference and gets a few things right and a few things wrong.

One of the “wrongs” I noticed early on was when Marcus and crew explored an abandoned funeral home for their YouTube channel. They entered a room containing a casket. I’m not sure how long the funeral home had been abandoned. By the looks of the coffin, it might’ve only be a few days or weeks.

Believe me, in this review of Hell’s Half Acre, I have no intention of nitpicking on minor non-plot essential details like the pristine condition of the coffin. I’m more concerned about what was inside the coffin when they flipped the top. Which was essentially nothing —save for a few “hungry” rats. That was their explanation for the rodents being there.

But even before they offered hunger as a reason for the rats’ presence, my first thought was, “Why would rats be in a coffin?” Followed by, “Maybe to nest?”

Even though I knew what the answer was: for the creep factor and maybe to try and sneak in a jump scare.


However, let’s backtrack a moment because one of the “rights” happened early on too.

Marcus (Quinn Nehr) and Jessie (Brynn Beveridge) are talking while waiting outside the funeral home for Dan (James Matthew Fuller) and Jose (Omar Vega Jr.). Jessie suggests a location for their next show: Rockland Heights Prison. She mentions how in addition to a great history, it’s also allegedly haunted.

Marcus looked completely disinterested and immediately brushed her off and changed the subject the second Dan and Jose pulled up. Nonverbal acting is sometimes the hardest, but Nehr nailed it in that scene.

We later find out he’s very adamant that their channel stay true to their urban explorer roots. The last thing he wants to become is a “fake ghost hunter.”

Until they find themselves at Rockland Heights Prison, a.k.a. Hell’s Half Acre, which was home to some of the most notorious (fictional) inmates ever, including two serial killers: Martin Clay, a.k.a. “Cannibal Clay” and Eddie “Red Ripper” Richards.

The demonic duo started a riot in 1988 that resulted in the deaths of 34 inmates, nine prison guards and “countless others injured,” as the news clip put it.

Clay and Richards ended up being executed —via the electric chair— within a day of each other, but on the day of each of their executions, a detailed pentagram was found drawn on the ceiling in both of their cells.

Weird. It’s something Marcus and crew make a point to check out when they start exploring the prison. They like debunking rumors so they head to Richards’ cell and, at first, don’t see a pentagram on the ceiling. Not until they realize it shows up on their night vision cameras.

Pretty soon after the action gets started in earnest. Well, what there is of action. There are ghosts, there’s lot of blood, and there are even some tender moments when Marcus realizes his recently deceased father has come back to help him escape the haunted prison where the former serial killers continue to slay as demons in the afterlife.

Hell’s Half Acre starts out like it’s going to be a found-footage movie, but then it’s not. It’s one of the many twists the movie tries to incorporate. Some with better success than others, like the storyline of Cassie, a new member who joins Marcus and team the night of the Rockland Heights Prison shoot. We know she knows more about the prison from a scene where she’s at home on the phone with Marcus and has all kinds of satanic material, along with news clippings about Richards and Clay. But she pretends she knows nothing.

No spoilers here. Let’s just say that was another one of the film’s “rights.” You’re led to believe she has ulterior motives, and she does, but they’re not quite as sinister as we’re first led to believe.

The other very major “wrong” was how the movie ended. Again, I don’t want to give away any spoilers but suffice it to say their reactions to the situation were very incongruous and not realistic at all.

That said, even with some glaring flaws in acting and the storyline, I didn’t feel inclined to turn Hell’s Half Acre off before the end.

A review of Hell’s Half Acre: Who will like it?

It’s a good movie for fans of paranormal TV shows, urbex YouTube channels, and paranormal movies with demons.

Hell’s Half Acre trailer

dark. Next. Hell's Half Acre takes us to abandoned prison in exclusive clip

If you’ve seen the movie, what do you think of this review of Hell’s Half Acre? Is it a fair assessment? If you haven’t seen it, would you be interested in watching it just to see what parts I didn’t spoil? We’d love to know your thoughts. Leave a comment sharing them!