Hellbenders Review

Movie: Hellbenders
By: Orlok
Date: July 9, 2013

HELLBENDERS: Hell bent for boredom

Making its rounds mainly in the festival circuit HELLBENDERS is still not getting much buzz. The film by J.T. Petty consists of a genuinely interesting idea but the end result (in 3D) is quite a boring mess.

Even while the film is shown at a few festivals there isn't much info on the movie itself: no official website, no trailer (well, it's hard to find), no sign of the graphic novel that Petty also wrote. There are only a couple of images circling the web. It almost feels like Petty is embarrassed about his own film. Maybe there's a brilliant marketing strategy behind it but so far it isn't working out.


Saintly sinners

As mentioned before, the basis sounds quite good: there's this group called The Augustine Interfaith Order of Hellbound Saints which is the church's last straw when it comes to the most severe cases of possession. Because they took up this task they have to sin as much as possible and thus they sin, steal candy from kids, perform homosexual acts, drink and swear. So when performing a difficult exorcism the demon will be more likely to seek a sinner, the priest will get himself / herself willingly possessed and by an ultimate act of committing suicide they will drag the demon back to hell.
With a new pope taking over reigns in the world, the new regime is a bit embarrassed with this group of priests who dedicated their life to debauchery and threatens to close down the parish. But when the demon Surtr takes possession of one of the priests and threats to destroy the world as we know it -through means of a vagina-shaped fire- the group of Hellbound Saints have to step up in order to save the world.



First of all: it's in 3D! Why? I don't know! There's no consistent use of 3D and it really doesn't add anything to this film. It feels like it made to grab some extra cash from the pockets of filmgoers and buyers. Horror is one of the genres in which a 3D presentation works best but when putting it in 3D and not give the audience any worth for money then it's just a gimmick to me.
The film itself moves from horror to comedy and back. The first part of the HELLBENDERS is interesting since there's a case of possession to deal with and you're introduced to this ragtag band of priests. That works well and the first time it's actually funny to see some priests screwing around, getting drunk and swear -priests should do that more often. When we are moving towards the middle part of the film these people show up with orders from the Vatican to close down the parish. This center part of the film consists mainly of repeating all the funny things these sinning priests do. Except all these jokes now are falling flat and getting bored: you've seen already how drunk they can get, that they like to fuck and you've heard Clancy Brown say 'cocksucker' numerous times before.
Also, the finale the film is moving towards doesn't deliver. I expected the end of the world a little bit more apocalyptic instead of seeing a handful of priests taking up a handful of possessed people, all this around a bonfire with a vagina floating in its middle.


When there's no more room in hell...

Of all the priests Angus (a foul-mouthed Clancy Brown) and Lawrence (Clifton Collins Jr.) get most attention, and given the script they have they're doing pretty well but you can't help losing interest when the film moves towards the second and third act. The other priests are just there to liven up things and give more comic relief in the middle part but they're just some flat characters.
From a cool, vivid start the film moves to an uneven balance of comedy and horror. If they ditched the 3D (it creates expectations) and got a more solid script that would even up things the whole film could be quite a bit better. This film's only redemption lies in ending up as a cult favorite but I'm afraid even that fate won't be granted to HELLBENDERS.







J.T. Petty






Clifton Collins Jr., Clancy Brown, Robyn Rikoon and Andre Royo