The concepts of demonic possession and exorcisms fascinate me, which partially explains why I like horror movies so much. As any horror buff can tell you, hundreds, if not thousands, of films about these subjects have been made over the years. But, as such, few have come up with concepts as unique as the one from HELLBENDERS. The idea of exorcists who have to kill themselves in order to take demons back to Hell is very original. And as you will see in this horror-comedy, it is also very intense and entertaining.
If you are not familiar with HELLBENDERS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Lionsgate:
There are demons so terrible that no mortal man of God could successfully drive them back to Hell. The only option is for the exorcist himself to invite possession and then commit suicide, dragging along the demon to damnation – so the Augustine Interfaith Order of Hellbound Saints – or Hellbenders – was formed. A group of elite, highly-trained exorcists, they live in a constant state of debauchery so they will be ready to go to Hell at any moment. When an infernal Norse demon called Black Surtr escapes into New York City intent on cracking open the gates of Hell, the Hellbenders must use every ounce of their debauchery to battle the demon and save the planet from eternal damnation!
Before I begin this review, I must warn you up front: if movies like DOGMA offended you, then do not watch HELLBENDERS. The subject matter is slightly similar, as is the language and coarseness throughout. But if you found DOGMA hilarious like I did, then you’re in for a real treat; HELLBENDERS is a riotous blast with humorous characters and an intriguing plot.
The film is shot well and looks great, both from a 2D and 3D aspect. Many films use 3D in an attempt to draw an audience, regardless of whether it enhances the experience or not. But HELLBENDERS uses 3D to its advantage and creates a more immersive atmosphere for the viewer. As a result, the entertainment value skyrockets when you watch it in this format.
Likewise, the acting is excellent as well. I particularly enjoy seeing Clancy Brown onscreen; I’ve been a fan of his work since I first saw him way, way back in 1984, in THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI ACROSS THE 8TH DIMENSION. Over the years, this guy has played so many different parts in so many different types of film and television that it’s hard to tie him to a specific genre. This diversity highlights his talent as an actor and brings more credibility to each role he undertakes. Clifton Collins Jr. does a great job as well, and I would be remiss if I did not mention him.
Gore-hounds will be glad to hear there is a nice dose of carnage in HELLBENDERS as well. Although the special effects look good, I do wish there had been more gore throughout the film, particularly when the demon is biting off noses and fingers. I think some nice arterial sprays would have made the 3D effects look even more vibrant. This is not a complaint, but more of a personal opinion. My sole grievance with the film is that some of the demonic effects used on people are a bit generic. I say ‘some’ because several of them look great…but a little more originality would have been nice overall.
HELLBENDERS is a lot of fun, though, and I highly recommend giving it a look. The film has laughs, gore, demons, and intensity…what more can you ask for in a horror-comedy? Give this one a look, and be sure to check it out in 3D if you can. The Blu-ray contains a couple of nice Special Features, including an audio commentary with the director, a couple of behind-the-scenes featurettes, and more. The movie hits store shelves today.