Grindhouse, exploitation, gore fest, whatever you want to call it, ‘Holy Hell’ is bloody AND funny and completely in your face from start to finish, making no apologies for what it is as it speeds its way to the finish in a shower of blood and mayhem.
Writer/director/actor Ryan LaPlante obviously has a plan that is to see just how much fun he can have combining over the top acting and violence using the most minimal of plot structures. As Father Bane, LaPlante plays a priest that has been pushed too far. That is the polite and mild mannered description to what happens. In actual fact, Father Bane goes all avenging angel after the death of some of his parishioners pushes him over the edge to a dark and violent place that I’m pretty sure he never saw himself ever going.
Revolver in hand, Father Bane strikes out on a mission of revenge or as the authorities might call it, a brutal killing spree that would make Charles Bronson smile. Bodies fall like rainforest being cleared for a new mini-mall and in some very gruesome but still hilarious ways. Father Bane tracks down the scum that started his mission and exacts the kind of payback that he has been searching for, although not without consequences.
Ryan LaPlante does exactly what you need to do with a movie like this, that being pushing ahead completely balls to the walls from the opening credits to the final frame and only stopping to catch a breath with some wonderful and off the wall humor. Joined by actors Alysa King (Amy Bonner) and Michael Rawley (Dokes MacFarlane), the film is full of cringe-worthy sexual situations, decapitations and lots of blood, LaPlante steers the movie in the right direction as both writer and director while letting his anarchic blood flow as the avenging Father Bane.
The best way to enjoy a movie like this is knowing going in just what it is you’re paying for. This is not Oscar material, nor does it pretend to be, and recognizing that from the beginning is a victory in itself for both filmmaker and audience. What it is, in all its glory, is a celebration of movies in the vein of Hobo With a Shotgun and The Toxic Avenger and not ashamed of this in the least. Again, the fact that the movie embraces what it is with gusto allows it to steamroll forward with no regard and no interest in good taste and cookie cutter vanilla filmmaking. A nice shout out to the music score as well as it was as crazy ass as the movie was.
It does beg the question, who the hell comes up with not only the overall idea for the film but many of the scenes that can be found littered throughout it. I really don’t care as I laughed my ass off many times but I think the answer would be interesting and maybe a little worrisome as well. The best thing about a movie like ‘Holy Hell’ is no idea is a bad idea and they must have had a great time filming it. After watching this film, I’d love to see what they actually left on the cutting room floor.
The problem with a movie like this is sometimes things become too ridiculous or too over the top, almost like they are trying too hard to be something loud and different. A few jokes fell flat and some scenes just didn’t work but overall there was a pretty good balance going on here.
In the end, this movie was exactly what you’d expect and didn’t disappoint in regards to the exploitation, grind house style of filmmaking. Suspend your disbelief and go have a great time watching this film. Hey, any movie with the tagline “Forgiveness for some…bullets for the rest!” is ok in my book.
Three and a half stars out of five
Holy Hell makes its Toronto Premiere at The Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival Friday November 25th at 11:59pm at the Cineplex Cinemas at Yonge and Dundas
- Complete and utterly enjoyable mayhem
- The movie embraces what it is with no apologies
- Who doesn't like a gun-toting holy man?
- The film sometimes feels like it's trying a bit too hard to be over the top
- Some jokes fell flat, leaving some scenes awkward and feeling unfinished