BLOODY HELL

Producer: Joshua Paul and Brett Thornquest   Director: Alister Grierson   Screenplay: Robert Benjamin   Cast: Ben O’Toole, Meg Fraser, Caroline Craig, Matthew Sunderland, Travis Jeffery, Jack Finsterer, David Hill, Caleb Enoka, Joshua Brennan, Ashlee Lollback and Sophia Emberson-Bain   Distributor: The Horror Collective

Grade: C+

It’s difficult for a horror comedy to keep up its energy level for the duration, and while “Bloody Hell” doesn’t escape some doldrums, its snarky attitude and gleeful ghoulishness, especially in the final reel, will probably satisfy those with a hankering for the genre.

The central character is Rex (Ben O’Toole, giving a virtuoso performance) whom we meet as he stands in line at a bank, patiently arranging to chat up Maddy (Ashlee Lollback), the clerk who’s he’s sweet on.  Unfortunately their conversation is interrupted by a masked gang of robbers, and as he cowers behind a desk, his volatile alter-ego eggs him on to take forceful action.  He does, without restraint; and though many who watch the security footage see him as a hero, the way in which he ends the robbery (which we see later in the picture, in flashback) sends hi o prison.

Upon his release years later, Rex finds himself unable to escape the badgering of the press and public, so he flees in Finland, where he’s kidnapped by what turns out to be a peculiar family, a father (Matthew Sunderland) and mother (Caroline Craig), their nervous son (Travis Jeffery) and a stern uncle (Jack Finsterer).  As it turns out, there’s another son, called Pati (Caleb Enoka), whom they have to care for in a very particular way.

Rex finds himself hanging from the ceiling in the family’s basement.  And the lower part of his left leg has been sawed off.  Naturally his alter-ego encourages him to try to escape his bonds, but the situation seems hopeless—until Olli (David Hill), the youngest son of the clan, and his winsome sister Alia (Meg Fraser), who’s assigned to watch over the kid, come to visit the basement.  Rex takes advantage of their naiveté to free himself.

But that’s only the beginning of what Rex must do to save himself—and the lovely Alia.  There is a gory confrontation with the family, whose unholy service to Pati must be conclusively ended.  None of it is pretty.  And, of course, there are concluding twists that things are not really over.

The concluding carnage will certainly meet the expectations of those who yearn for such stuff, and the bank robbery scenes, so often flashed back to, should remind action fans of Tarantino and his many imitators.  The snarky repartee of Rex’s motor-mouth alter-ego will also be embraced by Tarantino-ites. 

But to tell the truth, it gets exhausting after a while, especially in the prolonged scenes of Rex’s basement bondage, which seem to go on forever despite the editing efforts of screenwriter Robert Benjamin and director Alister Grierson.  Otherwise Grierson’s helming keeps things moving reasonably well and Benjamin’s expository dialogue is adequate to its purpose.  Michael Rumpf’s production design, Berad Shield’s cinematography and Brian Cachia’s score are better than average for this sort of movie.

O’Toole absolutely dominates the proceedings as the literally two-faced Rex, but the rest of the rest of the cast play along with the morbid material. 

The movie actually ends with one of its better jokes, when the credits announce that it’s “Finnished.”  But in the end “Bloody Hell” winds up as just a campier take-off on “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” that only fitfully achieves the intensity of Tobe Hooper’s classic. 

Still, it may be enough of a gore-fest for hard-core fans.