Written & Directed by J.T. Petty
Cast: Clancy Brown
Cliffton Collins Jr
Exorcism flicks are plentiful and all seem to follow the same formula. A female (most like in her teens) is possessed, the family is torment and pushed to the brink. They eventually reach out to a priest struggling with his faith who will always sacrifice himself to save the girl. This is a given for almost all exorcism flicks and it worked well with the Exorcist, but now it’s a tired approach that makes most of these flicks forgettable. It appears that J.T. Petty feels the same way I do and decided to not just try a new approach to possession films, but fully embrace this formula and take us to a whole new level.
Hellbenders centers around a group of Priests known as The Hellbound Saints. Their job is simple: Sin enough so when they find themselves with their back against the wall during an exorcism they can have the demon enter them and then off themselves. Resulting in a one way ticket to hell with demon in tow. You can imagine the kind of depravity that these priest endure in order to be hell worthy. Lead by foul mouthed Angus, the Hellbound Saints take their work very serious until one day a possessed Rabbi for tells the end of days and the coming of a particular evil demon that has it in for all of mankind. Of course this lead to the priest having to up their game and sin there asses off.
What film about a rag tag crew would be complete without a stuffy business suit type trying to shut them down. Clint (Steve Gevedon) is sent in to check up on the saints and make sure they are not soiling the Catholic Churches good name (HA!).Much of the films laughs originate with Clint observing the Hellbound Saints at work. This all leads to Clint shutting down operations the day the gates of hell are due to open. Think Ghostbusters with a lot of swearing and drinking and demons and blood….. Okay not really LIKE Ghostbusters, but you get the point.
Hellbenders plays out like a crossover between Ghostbusters and Boondock Saints and is really an excuse for Petty to have fun with Clancy Brown and Cliffton Collins Jr. And why the hell not!?! Petty has some serious talent on board this indie horror/comedy and is not afraid to showcase it. Watching Brown as a drunk priest order one of his priests to sodomize the other might be the highlight of this moviegoers year. Collins really nails it here as Angus’s second in command who struggles with his sinning. He knows his duty and accepts his place, but you can’t help wondering why the hell is this guy married? Why would a man whose sole purpose in life is to off himself and go to hell, even bother getting hitched? A small gripe but one that rubbed me the wrong way.
I can’t talk about the cast without mentioning Dan Fogler. Now this guy steals every scene he is in! I have no idea what church would ever ordain this wild card but sign me up! I’d be at every service! Couldn’t get enough of him and he had me laughing my ass off.
Much can be said about the flicks SFX. At certain point it’s top notch and the possessed look great (Especially when you factor in the films meek budget). The film is in 3D and while I watched it via iTunes (not in 3D), I can’t imagine why this film would be in 3D. Someone needs to tell the “powers that be” the whole 3D fade is over and to drop the gimmick. I smell studio involvement on that one!
If you think a priest holding a communion wafer and yelling “Fuck You, Cracker!” is hilarious ( which I do!) then Hellbenders was made for you. If you don’t you probably don’t want to waste you time. J.T. Petty doesn’t seem to mind offending anyone and really totes the line between funny and flat out offensive. Which when you add elements of horror and even romance can be a difficult task. But if you don’t mind watching priest drunkenly battle demons while smoking pot, stealing and fornicating than Hellbenders is right up your alley!