Documentaries are tough for me to review. I’ve never been sure why. I guess it’s because there isn’t much to talk about in the way of the filmmaking techniques involved. Some documentaries come up with interesting visual styles but most of them are just a combination of talking heads and archival footage, which is the case with To Hell And Back. That leaves only the story to examine. The good news here is that Kane Hodder has an amazing story to tell.
I was a kid in the mid-80’s. As a horror fan that meant one thing: you were a fan of Jason, Michael or Freddy. You could like all three (which I did) but one of them was “your guy”. For me, that was Jason Voorhees. There was nothing more thrilling than the release of a new Friday The 13th film. Even at the time, I was aware that they were not really good movies but they are just so much fun.
As a “Jason Voorhees guy” I was well aware of Kane Hodder. I really liked what he brought to the character. I go back and forth between him and Richard Booker as to who was the best Jason. One thing that I have always believed though is no one who played Jason loved the character more than Kane. He has always seemed to approach it with a reverence that the others just never quite have.
Before watching this movie I didn’t know much about Hodder outside of his work as Jason and Victor Crowley in the Hatchet films. I had read a couple of interviews with him and thought that he seemed like a nice enough guy. When I heard about this documentary I thought it would be an interesting watch. I expected it to be the story of a guy who was bullied as a kid and then grew up to make the most of it and it is that story but it is also so much more.
If you don’t know the things that Kane Hodder has had to overcome in his life, you’ll be amazed by this film. The power of To Hell And Back isn’t just in the story that it tells but in the way that that story forces you to examine yourself and the type of person you are. Often while watching this movie I wondered if I would have had the strength to comeback from the things that he had to overcome. The truth is, after a couple of days of reflection, I’m still not sure. It’s an uplifting and inspiring story. There’s power in not only hearing about the hurdles he has faced but also in his openness and honesty in talking about them. There’s an authenticity to Kane Hodder that cannot be faked.
No matter who “your guy” was in 80’s I promise that you will take something away from this movie. It’s a touching portrait of a man who stared his demons down and came out better for it on the other side. It also puts an intensely human face on the man who has more often than not played a monster.