Bloody Hell: The First Bananas Horror Film of the Year

Don't let the picture fool you. This guy rarely stops talking.EXPAND
Don't let the picture fool you. This guy rarely stops talking.
Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

“I don’t know what’s happening, but it’s violent and a little horny” is certainly an appropriate mood for 2021 so far. It’s also the thought that ran through my head like a maniac with a chainsaw as I watched director Alister Grierson’s new horror flick Bloody Hell.

Ben O’Toole stars as Rex, a former soldier that just got out of prison after he played vigilante hero during a bank heist with gruesome results. Now a tabloid sensation, he flees to Finland where he is immediately kidnapped by a cannibal cult. Luckily, our strapping wannabe hero has already captured the heart of the family’s reluctant and comely daughter Alia (Meg Fraser), who may be the key to him getting out alive.

So, yeah. It’s Texas Chain Saw Massacre with a meet-cute plot, and it’s weird how well that works. The chemistry between Rex and Alia is smoking, including a bizarrely erotic scene where she gets on her knees to disinfect the stump of the leg her family sawed off to feed to her massive cannibal brother. Her loving ministrations are played as physical flirtation, and even in an actual abattoir the star-crossed love story makes you root for this odd couple.

In reality, odd throuple. Another twist in the plot is that Rex sees a projection of himself that encourages him to give in to his darker impulses. A good quarter of the film is O’Toole playing a dual role as captured victim and manic personal angel. It’s a technique pioneered and perfected by Carla Gugino in Gerald’s Game, but O’Toole gets to add more physicality to the role, and it makes him dance between twin personas of hero and opportunistic killer.

It’s kind of shame that the execution of the themes in the movie are too weak to really carry the weight of that trick. There is so much packed into Bloody Hell’s 90-minute runtime that there’s just not much room for deeper exploration. The war between O’Toole’s violent nature and his desire to be a good man is interesting if a little stale by now. One character even remarks that half of the people who know of his actions during the bank heist think of him as Batman and the other half think of him as Joker. Watching another white dude give into his demons is definitely something I already get too much of on the news right now.

That said, it’s not something that should keep anyone from thoroughly enjoying a zany, gory good time. It’s easy enough to focus on the horror of Alia’s family as well as Rex’s fight for his life. The last 20 minutes are a blur of action not seen since Ash Williams grafted a chainsaw on his hand and said “groovy.” Bloody Hell is body horror jubilee with a romance angle hot enough to thaw frozen meat. Where it tries too hard to make a statement about its hero’s soul the film is a tad out of its depth, but when the cutting starts the film really shines.

Bloody Hell is available through video on demand as of January 14.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.