A man who wants to escape the attention of being a local infamous celebrity in Boise, Idaho, packs his bags for Finland, only to find himself getting more horrific and deadly attention there in director Alister Grierson’s U.S./Australian coproduction Bloody Hell. The film delivers strongly in both the fright-fare and humor departments, rating as a must-see for horror comedy fans.
Rex (Ben O’Toole) foils a bank robbery by killing the criminals, but during the event, a bank employee is shot dead. Having to agree to a deal, Rex spends eight years in prison and finds himself hounded by paparazzi and citizens because some consider him a hero while others blame the employee’s death on his recklessness. Looking to get away from it all, Rex flies to Finland but on the way, a creepy couple states that he is “perfect for their son.” Soon, Rex finds himself hanging from a rope in a cellar, with one of his legs cut off. Thankfully, he has his cheerleading alter-ego on his side, which got him through both war and prison before, and he may just have the lone somewhat-sane member of a sick, twisted family (Meg Fraser as Alia) reluctantly coming to his aid, as well.
Robert Benjamin’s screenplay is rich with dark humor, including a great deal of hilarious dialogue between Rex and his alter ego. Although the cast is solid throughout, the film is largely a star showing for O’Toole, who gives a superb performance. He delivers in the comedy department and in heavier moments, and does a great job with all that is asked of him in physical performances, too. This is Fraser’s big-screen debut, and she shines, showing fun chemistry with O’Toole.
Many horror comedies lean more toward the funny side of things at the expense of chills and scares, but Bloody Hell serves up a denser amount of dread than many films in the genre. Plenty of gruesome violence and the physical aftermath of such is on display, with impressive practical effects. The film boasts many striking visuals, with cinematographer Brad Shield turning in wonderful work.
Grierson strikes a true balance between the horrific and comic elements, never an easy feat, crafting one of the better horror comedies of the year. Bloody Hell absolutely lives up to its title.
Bloody Hell screened as part of Nightstream Film Festival, which ran from October 8–11.