Bad Ben: Benign is the latest entry in what is a very long and detailed movie franchise. The stories mostly center on a man named Tom Riley, who bought a house on Steelmanville Road that is rife with paranormal activity. In this particular movie, Tom wanders back home after some kind of encounter in the woods. His home is outfitted with security cameras in almost every room, and he finds a new digital video camera that he carries around with him. Throughout this particular night, Tom has a face-off with different demons who terrorize him in different ways. At this point in the series, it seems as though Tom has become very comfortable with the supernatural, as he is more inconvenienced by them than scared.

Bad Ben: Benign is shot as found footage. Our views of Tom’s home and actions as seen through the numerous security cameras feels like a natural choice. In a world where it’s extremely common to have security cameras mounted on everything from our garages to our doorbells, the choice feels right. Especially for someone like Tom, who is routinely having encounters with the paranormal, having cameras all over the house and pointing at every conceivable angle makes a lot of sense. It also aids in some of the scares, as we see something standing in a place that Tom may not because of a certain setup or angle.

There are some extremely effective scares in the movie as well. Not only jump scares, but a few white knuckle moments when Tom goes to the basement to investigate a sound or we see a strange figure dancing just outside his window. The creatures are well-designed and creepy-looking, and the effects get the intended point across.

The real fun of the movie comes from the performance of Nigel Bach, who plays Tom and also writes and directs Bad Ben: Benign. Tom is that grumpy but ultimately lovable neighbor we’ve all had at one point or another. Bach infuses the moments in between the scary with some genuinely funny moments. Whether it’s Tom getting irritated that a spirit ate the rest of his Doritos or that there’s only caffeine-free Coke in the fridge, Bach can deliver a lot of actual laugh-out-loud funny moments. Battling demons isn’t the grand, horrifying thing that it normally is in other movies. Rather, getting rid of them is some irksome task Tom has to finish before he moves on to more important things.

Bad Ben: Benign, more than anything else, feels like a great midnight, cult status movie. It has touches of the surreal and strange alongside the horror and the humor. It’s an experience that would benefit from being viewed on a big screen in a small arthouse theater full of people, laughing and jumping along to the action on screen. It could be easy to get lost in the sometimes low production value and DIY sensibility, but it’s much more fun to give yourself over to it.


7 out of 10


Bad Ben: Benign
Runtime: 1 Hr. 39 Mins.
Directed By:
Written By:


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