Hellbenders 3D is an FX-driven Horror Comedy described as “a genre mash-up of The Hangover and The Exorcist.” It’s based on the graphic novels of J.T. Petty who also wrote and directed the film. Hellbenders was filmed with the new EPIC camera system from RED Digital Cinema, the same system used in The Hobbit movies—which makes the fact that it was released straight to video kind of a damn shame.
If Hellbenders sounds a bit comic-bookish that’s because it is.
Read my review after the jump.
Official Synopsis: The film follows the exploits of the Brooklyn-based Augustine Interfaith Order of Hellbound Saints, known as Hellbenders, a team of lewd and blasphemous ministers who live in a constant state of debauchery in order to be damnation-ready so they can drag the worst of demons back to Hell. When one of the foulest demons possess one of their own and threatens the existence of both Brooklyn and the world, the Hellbenders’ faith is tested.
Clancy Brown (Lost, Carnival, The Shawshank Redemption) plays Angus, the lecherous leader of the Interfaith Order of Hellbound Saints. His ridiculous escapades make him less intimidating as Angus than he is in other roles, but he’s still gruff and wonderfully unhinged. Something about those eyes can be really fucking intimidating. The rest of the cast coalesces well around him, creating a motley crew of misfits not unlike the heroes of Mystery Men.
Clifton Collins Jr. is great as Larry, Angus’s right hand man, a character who has difficulty balancing his job with his personal life. While all the Hellbound Saints live in a state of perpetual sin, Larry seems the most conflicted. Sin comes naturally for the others, but Larry has to work at it. He’s a unique combination of sleaze and soul. One of the few things that really bugged me, however, was Larry’s penchant for talking directly to the audience. That tactic was okay for Ferris Bueller, but Horror movies (even Horror Comedies) work best keeping that 4th wall intact.
What works great, on the other hand, are the documentary-style clips that pop up throughout the film adding legitimacy to what is otherwise a fantastically unrealistic film.
So what do I think about the comparison to a mash-up of The Hangover and The Exorcist? Not much, to be honest. Personally, I’d describe Hellbenders as a reinvention of Ghostbusters with demons instead of ghosts (and yes, the New York City setting is part of what draws the comparison). It’s a battle royale with Catholicism stepping up against an ancient Pagan “God Killer”. The film is Rated R, but hardly needs to be; no boobs, just lots of F-bombs, cartoonish violence, and gross effects (like black vomit and people getting their toes bitten off).
Most intriguing in terms of brain-fodder is this idea of living in perpetual sin as an act of Godly devotion. Each member of The Order of Hellbound Saints is willing to spend eternity in Hell if they can kill a demon in the process. Are these guys devoted or what? On the other hand, they all seem to really enjoy all the debauchery they wreck in order to remain damnable (except for Larry who seems to regard sin as a chore). Catholicism preaches suffering on Earth in exchange for Paradise in death, but the Hellbenders completely subvert this notion. They party hearty in the name of God Almighty knowing that eternal suffering is their only reward. Okay, it’s not very realistic, but just imagine how much fun it would be to drink, drug, and whore it up all while claiming, “I’m doing God’s work!”
Hellbenders will please fans of Horror, Fantasy, and Comedy. If they had spent less on 3D filming (which didn’t add a goddamn thing) and more on promotion, Hellbenders might have been commercially successful. Still, the ending screams “SEQUEL” and promises something even more terrifying is yet to come. Hellbenders is one of those films that allows you to just turn your brain off and have some fun.
3 out of 5 Skull Heads.
|Release Date||October 18 2013|
|Studio||Film Arcade, Lionsgate Home Entertainment|
|Starring||Clifton Collins, Clancy Brown, Dan Fogler|