BLOODY HELL Is a Pretty Fun and Very Weird Horror Flick

“Predictable” is one of the most damning words in film criticism. As a reviewer of films—and as a filmgoer in general—there’s nothing worse than when a movie goes exactly where you think it will without any nuance or fun along the way. Enjoying the ride is one thing; guessing correct so many times you should get a screenwriter’s credit is another. So that’s why movies like director Alister Grierson’s Bloody Hell are so welcome. At no point in the entire 95-minute runtime was I exactly sure what was going on. For better or worse, it absolutely keeps you guessing.

It’s hard to even tell from the trailer exactly what’s going on, and that too is to Bloody Hell‘s benefit. Is it an action-comedy? A gritty horror film? Is it a trippy John Dies at the End kind of experience? The answer is kind of all of the above and none of the above. “Indescribable” is also not really apt. But because we can’t really glean exactly what we’re watching, tropes-wise, we find ourselves just letting the story wash over us as we go from one hyper-violent set piece to another.

The story follows Rex (Ben O’Toole), a retired military guy of some sort who, following a robbery at a credit union, finds himself on trial for his actions in thwarting the assailants. Cut to eight years later. Rex is freshly out of prison and looking to get away from the paparazzi. At seemingly random, he chooses Finland as a destination and almost immediately a family of psychopathic Fins capture him, chain him up in a basement, and get him ready for dinner. Think of it as the Finnish Chain Saw Massacre.

Masked children lurking in Bloody Hell.

The Horror Collective

But it’s not entirely bad for ol’ Rex. He has two people to talk to. One is Alia (Meg Fraser), the seemingly innocent and gorgeous young daughter of the family. Because of course. And the other is himself. Rex has long conversations with his inner self, his conscience, or whatever you want to call it. The upshot is, O’Toole does most scenes in the movie opposite himself, one of which is shirtless almost the whole time. It’s impressive, in every aspect.

Meg Fraser as Alia in Bloody Hell

The Horror Collective

Really there are two different main plots at work in Robert Benjamin’s script. One explores the “reality” versus the perception of Rex’s takedown of the robbers. It touches on, but never fully delves into, his clearly scarred psyche and his innate bloodlust. Just because he’s effectively “saving” people doesn’t immediately make him a hero.

This story weaves in and out with the survival horror plot of Rex chained up in the basement waiting for the Finns to do something to him and trying to make his escape. This plot is the much more pedestrian, at least for awhile, but it has some absurdly over the top horror stuff. There are a few twists I wouldn’t dream of spoiling because, like I said, not knowing what’s going on his half the fun. Maybe even more than half.

Ben O'Toole hangs on for dear life in Bloody Hell.

The Horror Collective

Ultimately while I do think Bloody Hell is fun for the popcorn gorehound entertainment it tried to be, I also can’t help feeling the character of Rex is kind of reprehensible. He shouldn’t be the hero of a movie. But maybe that’s the point. This guy definitely is the hero of this type of movie; since we get to know how his mind works, we realize he really isn’t all that heroic. It’s only down to O’Toole’s all-in performance that we like Rex at all, and it’s on his (immaculately shaped) shoulders Bloody Hell rests.

Very strange, quite enjoyable, and a nice little well-shot indie flick. Better than it should be, and definitely never predictable. Bloody Hell is now playing at drive-ins and on demand.

Bloody Hell poster.

The Horror Collective


Kyle Anderson is the Senior Editor for Nerdist. You can find his film and TV reviews here. Follow him on Twitter!

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