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Review: Bloody Hell (2020) – Nightstream

Bloody Hell isn’t just the name of this film, it’s what you’ll be saying repeatedly during this Australian horror-comedy. And that’s a good thing because it’s a needed breath of fresh air among way too many films full of recycled material.

Rex (Ben O’Toole, Nekrotronic) just did eight years in jail for a bank robbery that left several people dead. The shitty part is he was the one who foiled the robbery, and it was the robbers he killed. Now that he’s something of a celebrity, he finds his life hellish. So he trades Boise, Idaho for Helsinki, Finland.

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It’s there he finds himself tied up in someone’s cellar and missing a leg. It seems someone was expecting him, and he’s about to find out there are worse things than dealing with the paparazzi. Director Alister Grierson (Sanctum) and writer Robert Benjamin have crafted an absurd tale that’s part Parents, part Texas Chainsaw Massacre and part love story. A love story with one of the most grotesque and grotesquely funny “cute” meetings I’ve seen. Saying much more would ruin a lot of the fun.

“What would happen if a character like John Wick walked into the home of a deranged family with dark secrets?

Producers Brett Thornquest and Joshua Paul

Shot in Australia passing for the US and Finland, (not too difficult as most of it takes place indoors) on a low budget, Bloody Hell gets very creative about telling its story without running up the budget. Much of it takes place in the basement with Rex by himself, sort of. Rex likes to talk to himself. Or rather an alter ego version of himself, a manifestation of his PTSD.

This somewhat nastier and more vicious version is also played by O’Toole, and their externalized internal dialogue is frequently funny. It also sets up the flashbacks that fill in some details on Rex’s history. Much of the rest is filled in by Alia (Meg Fraser) the family’s daughter and unwilling meat eater. She fills in the other side of the story in the same fashion.

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Between the two, there’s enough flashback to keep Bloody Hell from becoming overly talky while not breaking the budget. Most of which I’m sure went on the bank robbery at the beginning and the inevitable bloody final confrontation. That confrontation is a wildly energetic one that delivers some creative kills and practical effects, It also lets us see just how busy a one-legged man would be at an ass-kicking contest.

Bloody Hell is Fraser’s first film, and she does an excellent job in a difficult role. Likewise, O’Toole manages to pull off multiple scenes of his talking and arguing with his alter ego. The two also have good chemistry and manage to make their unlikely pairing believable.

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The filmmakers are planning to turn Bloody Hell into a trilogy, and the ending certainly leaves a few possible plotlines to choose from. Whichever one they choose, or if they come up with something new, I’ll be interested to see it. This is one of my favourite films of the year so far, and I want to see more of what Grierson and Benjamin can do.

Bloody Hell just made its North American debut at Nightstream and is in theatres in Australia. You can check the film’s Facebook page for details on upcoming screenings.

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