Hellbenders – 2 out of 5
I never heard of this film when it came out in 2012—which is kind of a crime because it has Clancy Brown in it and I love that guy—but when the trailer came up on a movie I was watching recently, I was sold on the film. I’m a big fan of dark comedies and thought the trailer for Hellbenders really showed something that could be incredibly funny. However, I ended up falling victim to nothing more than a well-made trailer from a movie that just doesn’t deliver—hey, it happens to all of us.
|A priest with a cigarette in his mouth? How did this movie not succeed?!?|
The Augustine Interfaith Order of Hellbound Saints is a unique ragtag group of priests and ministers with a unique mission. They fight the holy war against the hounds of darkness but they do it with a twist—they do it by sinning as much as they can. That way, if they can’t send a demon to Hell, they will let it take them over and they’ll kill themselves so they drag the monstrosity back to its unholy dwellings. However, when an ancient powerful demon threatens to swallow the world with its power and bring hell to the world, the Hellbenders must do everything in their sinning power to stop it.
|In case you are wonder, yes, that is a vagina in the fire.|
I’ll start by saying this: I really love the concept of this film. I enjoyed it so much that I probably would have considered purchasing the graphic novel that this film was based on (and adapted for film and directed by the writer of the book) but I was very unimpressed with what I saw. I really wanted to like this one and it really made for something that was pretty disappointing for me.
|You know what wasn't disappointing? The swears always spewing out of Clancy|
Brown's mouth. Now if only he did his lines like Mr. Krabs...
Occasionally, this dark comedy is very amusing and the film does offer up a great, fun cast. Sometimes the cast lives up to their potential—for example, Clifton Collins Jr., Clancy Brown, Andre Royo and Macon Blair are all very entertaining in this film but, on the flip-side, other performers just come off flat or, even worse, like they are trying too hard. Dan Fogler is the prime example of someone trying too hard and the scenes where he is attempting at making humor ends up feeling very forced. And that’s just when he is not attempting to steal the spotlight off other actors and making himself the center of attention during scenes where he is not the focus.
|I really liked Fogler in Fanboys but he was more of a distraction than a source for|
humor in the few scenes he was in during this one.
The rest of the film suffers greatly from a presentation that never feels very focused. Occasionally the narrative is told through a mockumentary-style exposition or told through the breaking of the fourth wall—heck, there’s even a comic book stylization sequence at one point but the problem that arrives is there’s too much going on and it feels like a scatter-shot approach to unfolding the plot. It makes everything feel so awkward. And that’s not even mentioning the cheesy editing effects that come into play. The best way I can describe these tidbits is saying they look like after effects that you would find in really cheap off-the-shelf editing software you would find in the late 90s.
|Can't say I was that impressed with the make-up either.|
In fact, all the problems this film suffers from extends from the story. For example, never does this tale feel like it has any real sense of urgency or even a semblance of a threat level. Sure, they tell you that this new demon is horrible and will destroy the world but the film does a poor, poor job of showing you that and it makes the whole feature feel like it has no sense of importance. Matters aren’t helped at all by how poorly each and every single character is developed in this film. In fact, most of them undergo absolutely no develop and are barely introduced beyond the fact they are sinning priests.
|This man was supposed to be an antagonist who threatens to shut their organization down|
and you would think that would result in some great conflict but
you'd be wrong.
Hellbenders contains a ton of potential and probably would have been an amazingly creative property that would have been best suited for a television show on a premium network but it ended up not living up to even a fraction of that potential and found life as an immensely disappointing and lazy dark comedy. Yes, it has some actors I really enjoyed and there are definitely some very funny moments on occasions but the rest of the film is a complete mess of bad writing and even some atrocious technical hiccups like bad audio mixing and questionable editing choices. This film could have easily been very unique and fun but ended up just a poorly made muddled mess.