Bloody Hell Review

Summary and Review of Bloody Hell

Rex Cohen: Ben O'Toole
Alia: Meg Fraser
Mother: Caroline Craig
Father: Matthew Sutherland
Uncle: Jack Finsterer
Director: Alister Grierson
Writer: Robert Benjamin
Release: 2021

A bit mad, slightly bad and reasonably dangerous to know, Rex Cohen (Ben O'Toole) is an army veteran who finds himself on the receiving end of an armed bank robbery and, drawing on his military skills, turns the tables on the bad guys. He takes them out and saves the customers but, in the process, incurs a civilian casualty. This earns him eight years in prison, in spite of his hero status in the eyes of many. On his release, to escape his past, Rex takes a flight to Finland for a new start, unaware that he has been marked out by fellow passengers for an unusual fate.

After being kidnapped and drugged, Rex awakens in a basement chained to the ceiling and with an important appendage missing (no, not that one). He realises he's been kidnapped by a deeply dysfunctional family with macabre motives in mind. With only his inner voice for company, Rex has to figure his way out and is assisted by the family misfit, Alia (Meg Fraser), who comes to his aid after mis-treatment by her family and a desire to escape their unhealthy lifestyle.

Once the preamble is out of the way, the scene is set for a mad rom-com-survival-horror- adventure that is funny, sharp and bloody. These elements are skilfully combined so that it feels more like a well-blended smoothie than an ill-assorted fruit salad. It’s aided by the cleverly edited backstory, revealed in flashback, which teases rather than confuses the viewer, leaving you to look forward to the next reveal in delighted anticipation.

Ben O'Toole is great as the action hero, with a look of Robert Downey Jnr and flashes of Martin Riggs in "Lethal Weapon”, and he throws his all into his two parts - of himself. The more reserved outer and the reckless, gung-ho inner whom Rex hallucinates into physical form; a habit he developed as a soldier to help him cope with the stress. The bickering between the two sides of himself is hilarious and makes Rex's efforts to escape far more entertaining than watching his struggle without access to his inner thoughts. It helps to move the action along with wise-cracking humour and bags of charm.

O'Toole didn't do it all on his own and was ably supported by the cast of the psychopathic family who were totally convincing as native born Finns, down to speaking the language, when they are, in reality, Australian. Caroline Craig deserves a special mention as the violently spiteful mother who displays a distinctly unmaternal attitude towards her daughter. And then there was the giant, man-baby…but I'll leave that for you to discover.

There’s action and gore aplenty with large dollops of dark humour as Rex and Alia band together to battle their way out of the house of horror and the narrative builds to a rip-roaring finale of mayhem that pulls no punches. “Bloody Hell” knows what it is and where it's going and, for that alone, deserves admiration. It would have been easy for the writer and director to lose their way, while weaving the threads of this multifaceted storyline.  

Was there a message in this film? If anything, it’s that actions have consequences with a question mark over whether the end justifies the means. But don't dwell on this as the main aim is to enjoy 90 minutes of pure entertainment unfettered by a guilt-ridden analysis of modern morality.



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