‘Bloody Hell’ Review: An Acrid Thriller Bites Off Too Much

This noxious thriller makes a hero out of Rex (Ben O’Toole), a military veteran who served time after killing a woman in an attempt to halt an armed robbery. After Rex’s release from prison, he hopes to clear his mind with a trip to Finland — but his vacation is cut short when masked assailants attack him in an airport taxi and blast him with sleeping gas.

Rex wakes up hanging from a basement ceiling, with one leg sawed off below the knee.

He quickly deduces that he’s in a family home, an assumption that’s confirmed when Rex is briefly visited by Alia (Meg Fraser), the possibly sympathetic daughter of the house who has been forced to serve her cannibal brother.

The situation is fit for horror, but the director Alister Grierson doesn’t settle into a tone of pure terror. Instead, he has the bound Rex start up a conversation with an imaginary version of himself — a projection who has the frame of mind to make a plan. The duo attempt to strategize their way out, and the banter between the two Rexes provides a source of deranged comedy.

The problem is that Grierson’s gesture at humor only amplifies the repulsiveness of the situation — the gore of Rex’s dripping leg, the cartoon villainy of his captors. The film tries to take a maximalist approach to genres, techniques and tones, but the effect is discordant and scattershot. One minute Grierson is incorporating fantasy sequences and flashbacks, the next the movie takes a detour for romantic comedy. It’s a buffet of only sour dishes, a rank fete of foulness.

Bloody Hell
Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 33 minutes. In theaters and available to rent or buy on Apple TV, Vudu and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators. Please consult the guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before watching movies inside theaters.


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