Once in a rare while I come upon a film whose marketing does not do it justice. At first sight, the Bloody Hell poster was a turn off. It conjured up thoughts of low “B” ’70s slasher cinema. On second sight, the trailer alleviated any apprehensions of what the poster was suppose to represent. But, I felt that coming attraction was trying too hard to be like a clone of a recent fave of mine, Ready or Not, with a dash of Hostel thrown in.
Now, it’s not my job to review marketing, but I can’t help it because director Alister Grierson, writer Robert Benjamin and their film are being done a disservice. Realize this, the term “bloody hell!”, according to wiktionary.org, is slang for an expression of dismay, disgust, anger, surprise, etc. This film is all that and more. Bloody Hell is chaotically absurd and darkly funny while delivering a nail-biting good time that will keep you cringing till the end.
Grierson and Benjamin’s fear fest is a nasty cross between the horror of the Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the goofiness of Sam Raimi’s original The Evil Dead. In fact, dare I say that Ben O’Toole as Rex nearly fits the big shoes of cult star Bruce Campbell as the hapless hero who does more battle with himself than he does with a family of cannibals. Rex and his id are perhaps one of the most humorous anti-heroes on screen in a long time.
Rex and his id have probably been battling each other since coming back from the war in Afghanistan. While settling in Boise, Idaho, Rex does his routine flirting with one of the bank tellers when he’s interrupted by violent bank robbers. What is Rex to do after being a badass in the middle east? He kicks into action. But, an awful turn of events lands him a jail sentence of eight years for playing hero. This makes him a reality celebrity, hated by some, loved by others.
Fast forward eight years later, and on a lark, the lark being a series of spitballs on a world map on his prison cell wall, Rex lets fate decide his next move which happens to be Finland, where nobody knows what he did and why he served time. Yes, he’s decided to leave America, the celebrity seeking reporters, his fans and foes, his private hell…for what he has no idea will be a far worse hell.
The moment Rex lands in Finland, he’s kidnapped and scurried away to a hellish domicile that he’ll never forget. Rex wakes up bound and disabled with only his id to get him through this nightmare. But, his id sends out mixed messages and the battle of words between the two begins and it is quite amusing.
Neither Rex nor us have any idea as to why he’s been kidnapped except that these people are a very demented bunch – except for maybe one daughter who may be the stablest and that’s not saying much. There’s also the matter of a baby brother that is kept well hidden and well fed with body parts. And, Rex insists that even in his disabled condition he will exact vengeance. As mentioned, what makes this film so much fun is Ben O’Toole’s performance as Rex which is part Ash from The Evil Dead franchise and Mel Gibson’s Martin Riggs from the Lethal Weapon franchise. To go any further would ruin the delightful and gruesome surprises in store.
Grierson and Benjamin’s talents compliment each other in this sinister tale of relationships gone bad, the fallout of reality celebrity stardom, and the family that slays together. Robert Benjamin’s inventive dialogue between Rex and his id always entertains and lightens up what could easily be a stomach churning, grand guignol affair.
Director Alister Grierson knows how to ratchet up the tension and at the same time walks the tight rope of humor and horror beautifully. Special shout out to Brian Cachia for his bouncy and at times chilling music score that reminds one of the suspense driven music from the master, Bernard Herrmann, best known for accompanying some of the most famous Hitchcock thrillers: Vertigo, North by Northwest, Psycho.
Sadly, during this time of COVID, audiences will be cheated out of this dose of insanity that is a thrill ride and-a-half. This is a film that not only demands an audience to enjoy it all the more, but to launch it as a midnight cult movie daring audience members to shout back and howl at the screen throughout all the antics. Bloody Hell had its North American premier at Nightstream on Friday, October 9th. However this film ends up, whether it is delayed for the future of American theaters or ends up on pay-per-view, VOD, Blu-ray, streaming, it commands to be seen with a group of fun-loving horror and thrill-seeking fans that have strong stomachs and relish dark humor with a bit of the old ultraviolence…
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Directed by: Alister Grierson
Release Date: April 9, 2020
Run Time: 95 min.