Released: 1st October
Seen: 1st November
In October of last year, Blumhouse films released 4 movies direct to Prime Video as part of a series titled “Welcome To The Blumhouse”. The films (The Lie, Black Box, Evil Eye and Nocturne) may not have been great but they all displayed a certain amount of promise, introduced some new talent and all broke from tradition by having a diverse cast that wasn’t the typical set of teenage dirtbags that litter the genre like so many soon-to-be-carcasses. Clearly that little experiment did pretty well because this year they’re back with 4 more films and today we’re going to look at Bingo Hell, because evil killer bingo is right up my alley.
Bingo Hell takes place in the small town of Oak Springs. There’s not much to do in this sleepy little town, just go to the local bingo hall and play a fun little game with the locals. Unfortunately the owner of that Bingo hall just sold it off to a man named Mr. Big (Richard Brake), no relation to the Sex & The City character of the same name. No, this Mr. Big makes his bingo games as big and flashy as you could imagine, with prizes in the tens of thousands of dollars for people who win his game… unfortunately, even though you might win the game, nothing is truly free and you might end up paying for that prize with your life. In the end it is up to senior citizen Lupita (Adriana Barraza) to figure out what’s causing all her friends to suddenly vanish or drop dead, and maybe also stop the gentrification of her little town before it gets out of hand.
Much like the other films in this little series, Bingo Hell isn’t exactly the greatest film you’ve ever seen. Most of it is pretty pedestrian with a little twist thrown in to keep it from blending in with the rest of its genre. This film leans heavily into a much older cast, mostly senior citizen age, who all get enamoured by the greed brought on by the high level prizes which create the promise of being able to leave their town and that element of the story is genuinely pretty great. It’s not often you get to see a horror film that looks quite like this and that’s exciting, more horror films should use this kind of cast.
The problem is probably one you realised the second you read the title “Bingo Hell“… evil killer bingo is a very stupid concept but this film has decided to take it dead seriously, using it to try and be some kind of grand metaphor for gentrification and the power structures that are created by gambling. It does this in a film where ping pong balls roll around to reveal the phrase “You lose” and turn people into piles of goo. It’s a tonal mix that never quite works, instead of blending the absurd with the horrifying it just kind of flicks between them without really thinking that much. It makes for a film where you can’t help but feel something isn’t quite working throughout.
Bingo Hell’s big boost though is another great Richard Brake performance, something to throw on the pile of great horror roles that his man has produced in recent years. I don’t know why Richard Brake is turning into a guy who is the best thing in mediocre movies, but with this film, 31 and 3 From Hell he is turning into one of those actors that will keep a mediocre horror film from being boring just by his incredibly enigmatic presence. Unfortunately, whenever he’s not on screen the film just kind of turns into mostly average mush that has no real flavour to it.
Bingo Hell has a half decent idea, a genuinely good cast and a few moments that will shock but at the end of the day it’s just a very bargain bin film that won’t linger long in the memory and, at its absolute best, might be good for a drunken viewing party if there’s nothing better available to watch… and if you’re able to get a hold of Bingo Hell, then you’re undoubtedly able to get a hold of something better.