It seems you can’t go to the cinema these days without at least three currently showing films being “based on a comic book/graphic novel”. Mainly these films are all the big budget Hollywood actioners. Yet there are plenty of smaller graphic novels that have made the transition to film without the big fanfare or inflated budget.
A couple of years ago we have the vastly underrated Priest, and now we have Hellbenders. Based on the graphic novels by Perry (Who also directs), The Augustine Interfaith Order of Hellbound Saints is a group of ministers that are charged with making sure any demons whom appear on Earth are sent back. These are no ordinary ministers though; their lives are full of debauchery and blasphemy. It’s no wonder the church (and the Pope) want to shut these guys down.
An insanely captivating premise in Hellbenders certainly peaks up interest in a film that already has a rather impressive cult cast list. The idea of a group of ministers that are drinking, swearing taking drugs and being blasphemous towards their so-called Lord Almighty boss is the perfect recipe for an atheist filmgoer. The problem lies beyond the initial premise of how to keep the raucous styling running for the entire film, and that’s where Hellbenders falls a little flat. Once we’ve seen the group each doing their own nasty things and also coming together to do “a job” then it struggles to find anywhere else to go. It tries to build up to a large finale about stopping the impending apocalypse, but with little underneath the surface this minimal hell or high waters ending see’s a bonfire become the epicentre of the end of days.
Each of the cast has their own sins they continue to live by, and these are enjoyable times in the film. Seeing Brown just completely blow his top and swear at everything. Or Fogler’s stoner come wanna-be lover. It’s enjoyable to witness Royo opening up his acting talents here as a straight laced minister who tries to keep everyone in check. The standout is Collin Jr as the self-proclaimed leader of the house who straddles all angles well and keeps the focus of the film entertaining. But even with these guys doing their utmost best as the crazy characters, the movie struggles to see beyond its initial premise of depraved ministers. The story requires more than it’s willing to give for Hellbenders to become a satisfying horror comedy.