Actors: Ben O’Toole, Meg Fraser, Caroline Craig, Matthew Sunderland, Travis Jeffery
Writer: Robert Benjamin
Director: Alister Grierson
I’d offer you my hand but you’d probably keep it.
Bloody Hell is a funny, quirky genre-hopper and a damn good time. I was a little skeptical at first when the story kept jumping around, not really giving me much to hold onto and get a grip of what the movie actually was, but once I got on the same wavelength, I enjoyed the hell out of it.
Rex (Ben O’Toole) can’t seem to catch a break. At various times throughout the film’s opening, he’s called things like Captain America, John Wick, and Jason Bourne…but he definitely sees himself as a loser. After spending some time in jail due to a vigilante attempt gone wrong, he decides to travel to Finland to get away from his troubles. Unfortunately, he manages to immediately run afoul of a fucked up, murderous family, forcing him to try to think his way out of a seemingly impossible scenario.
Those thinking scenes are the best parts of the movie. Rex has conversations with himself, a Mind Rex that only he can see. O’Toole has a lot of fun with this dynamic, playing it as extremely pissed off and critical of the actual Rex. The entire cast is solid, but the dynamic between O’Toole and himself really sells it.
He also works well with Alia (Meg Fraser), one of his more empathetic captors. They’re very funny together, and I believe this movie is the first time I’ve ever seen a romantic scene of someone lovingly cleaning the stump of a severed leg. That seems like something I’d have remembered seeing before. Overall, Bloody Hell is very funny. There’s a cut to a “23 minutes later” title card that had me laughing hard. I would have liked to spend more time with the captors and gotten to know the various siblings a little better, but the brief glimpses we get make it weirder and probably more interesting.
Alister Grierson directs it well. It’s a little frenetic at first, but, as I said, it clicks into place eventually. The best way to describe Bloody Hell would be a mashup of Die Hard, Basket Case, and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre if directed by Edgar Wright. The script by Robert Benjamin is sharp and funny and, despite its influences, refreshingly original. The relatively low budget is only really noticeable in the finale, but the more intimate nature fits the proceedings. On the flip side of that coin, the bank robbery setpiece is more impressive than a lot of mainstream studio films could pull off.
Anytime this movie felt like it was obvious where things were going, it would switch things up, usually for the better. That’s the best thing about it. It was a nice surprise, and Bloody Hell should end up garnering a passionate cult following.