Following the exploits of a band of misfit, fallen ministers known as The Augustine Interfaith Order of Hellbound Saints as they gallantly throw the very forces of evil back to hell.
Directed By: J.T. Petty
Starring: Clifton Collins Jr, Clancy Brown, Andre Royo, Robyn Rikoon
Hellbenders is based upon a graphic novel of the same title directed by the author that delivered this gem from its initial print conception. Original, thought provoking and so unapologetic it will offend most this film is every bit as brash and crude as it is horrific and gruesome.
Although the exorcism scenes are borderline satirical in nature one cannot help but ponder if the director is taking direct shots at the borage of preposterous demon related films that have near saturated the market within recent years. It seems everyone with a spawn of an idea concerning demons and possession thinks they are the next William Blatty. Let’s face it the original Exorcist and the impact it had on society will never be duplicated quite to the extent the controversial tale. This author/director seems to have a firm grasp on this and isn’t so much concerned on cashing in on a hot commodity as presenting an original tale with a must unusual twist.
The dialogue is comical and laced with double entendres making this a certifiable cult classic in the making. Fans will be quoting the hilarity within Hellbenders for years to come. The picture never seems to take itself too seriously which is precisely why it will resonate with many filmgoers long after the final credits.
It’s evident extensive research must have been conducted to convey an in depth knowledge of Catholicism and the opposing evil, their respective rituals, customs and tradition along with countless old testament references are made numerous times throughout the movie. It brings a certain level of authenticity to the presentation that will mystify audiences despite their reluctance or being appalled.
An effective soundtrack is utilized in enhancing the demon’s voices and accompanying foreboding music. This can be a most laborious agenda at the best of times when trying to illustrate strictly a horror film. Director Petty’s ability to flawlessly balance carnal terror and comedy is mesmerizing. While the viewer’s unease and angst is dialed up a notch one cannot help but chuckle at the hilarity that ensues. It’s a most welcome break in tension making this plot development comparable to a bona fide roller coaster ride.
The makeup team must be commended for their efforts in illustrating a hellacious onslaught of skin crawling demons. We never really second guess the authenticity of the evil that is permeated from each. The sheer artistry alone is enough to make the average viewer squirm in their seats.
The actors do a fabulous job of portraying characters we can relate to. We have an almost innate, inborn reaction to dislike the ministers at first as they consume bottle after bottle of whisky and pass around an acrylic bong pipe. At the same time we live vicariously through each, realizing that perhaps our weaknesses and flaws really aren’t that bad and we’re not that fallen from grace. We find a little of ourselves in their collective exorbitant, sinful ways. Essentially the moral of this script is to refrain from taking the scripture too literally. In translation the bible can be perceived in a million different ways. As long as we strive to treat others as we’d want to be treated the world, in essence is a better place.
In a surprise ending we don’t see coming J.T. Petty pulls off a highly entertaining tale of good versus evil we should all put on our must see list.
-Four and a half tombstones out of five