A quirky, demented, and frenetically paced genre mash-up, Bloody Hell from director Alister Grierson is a wickedly entertaining time that takes viewers to some truly unexpected places, and never really lets up from start to finish. Featuring a devilishly double performance from Ben O’Toole, Bloody Hell is a ridiculously fun romp that may not exactly dig really deep, but there’s still plenty to enjoy all the same.
Bloody Hell introduces us to Rex (O’Toole) on what might be the worst day of his life. As he uses his banking needs as a means of finding an excuse to chat with a teller he seems to share a bit of a flirtation with, a group of robbers burst in and take everyone hostage. Rex, being a man of action, intervenes and saves the day, but unfortunately, the legal system views his actions differently, and sends him to the slammer. After he’s released, Rex finds himself in need of a change of pace, so he decides to take a trip to Finland, but he has no idea that once he gets there, he’s about to experience what might be the second worst day of his life, and things only get wilder from there.
I’m being slightly vague in my synopsis of Bloody Hell for a reason, as the film definitely takes a few decidedly left turns that surprised me, and I’d like to preserve that experience for others. While Grierson might not exactly give us a probing examination of his characters and their motivations in Bloody Hell, that hardly matters because of the film’s brisk pacing that keeps things moving at a rapid pace, never allowing things to grow dull throughout the movie’s running time. He gives us enough to keep us invested, and as we only get an inkling of the mysterious reasons behind what happens to Rex in Finland, I like that Grierson trusts his audience enough to be able to put the rest of the puzzle pieces together for ourselves.
O’Toole delivers a truly charismatic performance—or performances, rather—in Bloody Hell, too, which is one of the biggest reasons the movie works as well as it does. Most of the story involves Rex arguing and scheming with another version of himself (perhaps his inner monologue), and O’Toole impressively rises to the occasion here with two engaging and charismatic performances that I was immediately drawn in by during Bloody Hell. Also, something else that I really must tip my hat to is how well Grierson manages to keep things interesting despite the fact that for nearly half of the movie, its protagonist is left immobile and contained in one location.
That’s not something that’s easy to pull off, but the combination of Grierson’s talents behind the camera and O’Toole’s talents in front of the camera make Bloody Hell a bloody good time, and I hope genre fans catch up with this one sooner than later. There’s some truly demented stuff at the core of Bloody Hell that had me cackling in delight, and I really enjoyed how Grierson managed to subvert all my expectations throughout his latest directorial effort.
Movie Score: 3.5/5