What I do understand about Ball’s work—a job I actually discovered last week and have since been fascinated by it—is that he’s a master of deception and disclosure, which, when done well, can be so powerful that -two blows really can kill you. consume viewers. Furthermore, he was also an expert at punching emotions back into horror. “Heck” is particularly gripping for both of these reasons. There are several revelations in a short amount of time that almost knock you out, one of them with a sharp gust of fear paired with deep emotional despair. This is the cornerstone of Ball’s work, and it’s something he does better than almost any other horror filmmaker I can think of.
Immediately upon watching it for the first time, it struck me that this film is inventive and truly unique Covid-era filmmaking to study. Ball’s narration plays very differently than most in that he shoots alongside or near the action so the action will either fit into the frame or be played off the frame in a way where sound informs your experience. You barely see anyone in this film, not even a small child holding a camera, so this was definitely a low-participation shoot that was perfect for the time of the pandemic when the film was being made. It was also shot in the lowest possible light, of course at a very high ISO which is often difficult to achieve and then might be judged intensely in post (where it also does some terrible things to the film’s soundscape). The overall effect is huge, and it speaks to what social distancing guidelines can do in general in any genre, let alone just horror. Ball’s films look and feel different than anything that’s ever been before, and they’re a prime testament to his vision and filmmaking practice.