By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
Having been mostly immersed in awards season screeners, it was really nice to take a break and watch something more wild and subversive. This violent and bloody dark comedy is exactly what I needed. From Australian director Alister Grierson comes a modern-day grindhouse flick titled Bloody Hell. Grierson and writer Robert Benjamin take some fairly typical horror tropes and utilize them in some fun and entertaining ways. The result is an often raucuous, gruesome, but exciting ride that is sure to please fans of horror-comedy.
Ben O’Toole stars as Rex, a war veteran attempting to adjust to a quiet, regular life in his home of Boise, Idaho. Enamored with a particular bank teller (Ashley Lollback), Rex’s latest visit to the bank proves to be more eventful than he had originally anticipated. When a violent bank robbery “forces” Rex to spring into action to save the day, things don’t exactly go as he would’ve liked. After an innocent victim gets caught in the crossfire, Rex ends up paying for his heroics with a brief stint in prison. After getting released, the psychologically tormented badass decides to distance himself from his newfound fame and randomly selects Helsinki, Finland as his next destination.
Well, as Rex’s bad luck would have it, this decision proves to be yet another mistake. Immediately after his arrival, the American visitor gets abducted by his cab driver. He awakens bound and tied in the basement of a bizarre Finish family who plan to feed Rex to an unknown beast residing in the home. Armed only with his wits, skills, and a more devilish personification of his mind, the former veteran must do what he can to escape yet another hellish situation.
Though Bloody Hell isn’t all that strikingly different overall. filmmakers Benjamin and Grierson have a few tricks up their sleeves. The main running gag of the film involves Rex having his own personality as his best friend and confidant. This particular element makes for most of the entertainment of the movie and it works mostly well. However, by the final acts of the film, the gag has already run its course. That is not to say that the movie doesn’t have any other funny or entertaining moments, but it feels like the filmmakers put a little too much stock into this one gag. While the whole “talking to himself” routine allows actor Ben O’Toole to shine in a dual role, the film needs more variety to keep things more exciting and interesting.
And as I just said, O’Toole is great as both his normal self and as his uber id personality. It is definitely a treat to see him run around freely as the imaginary friend who is obviously invisible to others. O’Toole definitely has the charming personality, as well as the comic chops and energy to perform both sides of the coin. As his main co-star, actress Meg Fraser is also enjoyable, but more for her more quiet and restrained demeanor. Fraser stars as Alia, a member of the twisted family holding Rex hostage who eventually becomes Rex’s only ally. Alia is the one black sheep of the family who wants nothing to do with her family’s sick and twisted activities. Fraser has a great screen presence though she definitely plays second fiddle to O’Toole’s dual performance.
Overall, I did rather enjoy this movie. director Grierson presents the big picture in a non-linear way that helps generate more interest and keeps the audience invested. I just feel that the filmmakers needed to utilize their main gag a little less and maybe expand more on the mysterious villains perpetrating their heinous crimes. It is a movie I still highly recommend as it is a great time for people who enjoy some dark and wicked comedy mixed with action and horror. Bloody Hell is available for your enjoyment in theaters, drive-ins and On Demand starting January 14, 2021.