And now for something completely different, director Alister Grierson’s horror film Bloody Hell (2020) is an insane, wild ride that splatters the audience with both blood and comedy. With fevered editing and pacing reminiscent of a Guy Ritchie movie and enough gore to possibly satiate even Eli Roth, Bloody Hell is perhaps like if Hostel (2005) it were pumped full of witty quips and had a love story at its center.
After being found guilty of vigilantism in the court of public opinion, Rex (Ben O’Toole) is thrown in jail, having killed a group of criminals attempting to rob a bank. Finally freed years later, Rex decides to start over in Finland, but soon after landing, Rex is kidnapped and held hostage. He regains consciousness to find himself tied up in a basement, missing half a leg, and without many options for escape, until the daughter of the house, Alia (Meg Fraser), sees him as her knight in shining armor to help her escape her deranged family.
I adored writer Robert Benjamin’s creation of the protagonist, Rex — he’s not a superhero, but rather a heroic average Joe, and to make him even more lovable, he wears his heart on his sleeve. This character is brought to life in a tour de force performance from Ben O’Toole, who embodies this character on a level I would compare to Bruce Campbell fitting the grooves of Ash Williams so perfectly. Giving the character split personalities had Ben O’Toole working overtime in two roles — my first thought was that it was lazy writing and would come off as expositional, but writer Robert Benjamin proved me wrong, and I actually ended up preferring Ben O’Toole’s performance as his alter ego character even more than the protagonist character.
Bloody Hell skirts cheesiness because of how ridiculous it is at times, but it avoids coming off as a B movie somehow — I feel that people who enjoyed Guns Akimbo (2019) would like this movie, At its core, it is a tale of romance as a knight-ish character becomes wrapped up in a mission to save a damsel in distress, but director Alister Grierson putting a f*cked up, gore-happy, cannibalistic family spin on that tired fairy tale is a stroke of horror genius.
The movie also subverts expectation by having a male being the kidnapped person, where more often in film it is a woman being taken, held hostage, kidnapped, tortured, etc. and having to escape. A small note on the sound design — I unfortunately found it difficult to make out what characters were saying at times, so some work to make the dialogue clearer would’ve been appreciated.
Bloody Hell proves that no good deed goes unpunished in many unexpected, graphic, and humorous ways, helmed by a luckless but loveable protagonist that makes this movie beg to be revisited. Alister Grierson’s Bloody Hell is weird, it’s fun, and it’s available soon, being released on-demand on January 14th.
7 out of 10