Benny Loves You (FrightFest 2020) review – outrageous fable about holding onto childish things Ta da!

4

Summary

A wonderful blend of riotous black comedy with creepy dolls and suspenseful slasher from British auteur Karl Holt.

I just watched a film about a man and his killer teddy bear and I haven’t laughed that much within ninety minutes in years. Benny Loves You is brilliant.

“Written, directed and other fings by Karl Holt,” Benny Loves You is – after a pretty freaky prologue – about Jack (played by Holt), keen to grow up after a disastrous thirty-fifth birthday party and so he has a good clear out. His red, cuddly teddy from childhood gets thrown out, and then guess what? Benny isn’t ready to part from Jack. Anyone who threatens Jack or comes between them is at risk.

If you like deadpan black humour, slapstick, or watching annoying pets/kids/people get stabbed, eviscerated and mutilated, you’ll have fun with this one for sure. Once the killings start, centred on Jack, the (adorable) police take an interest. Jack has to work out whether to defend himself, make peace with the deranged bear or… um, take creative inspiration from him! Of course: he works in a toy company.

It’s brilliant, honestly! And not just the laughs and the violence, or the police (more into Custard Creams than evidence), or the tit who prefers his name to be pronounced posh, or the –yes – other ruthless dolls. There’s also a lovely mix of utterly normal and believable characters (Jack and his new lady-friend Dawn, played by Claire Cartwright) with caricatures, so deftly drawn that it wouldn’t surprise me if they were based on people Holt knows in real life. Jack’s boss, who can make his staff say the right thing with a glare; his work rival, who idolises Prince; the estate agent, the bank account manager… if Holt hasn’t met all these people before, I certainly have.

And then, there’s the animation, puppetry and special effects. Whether it’s Benny’s knife attacks, accidental deaths, the fight between Benny and the robot or ew, that thing with the little vacuum cleaner, the entire production is pretty remarkable. A most impressive moment is a slow motion shot of Benny flying through a broken window, still waving his knife. Many scenes may be familiar from films such as Child’s Play (of course) and Home Alone, but the style is unique.

So if you used to enjoy Celebrity Death Match, but found it just a little too American, Benny Loves You could be perfect. Benny has his UK premiere at FrightFest, October 2020.


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Alix Turner

Alix has been writing for Ready Steady Cut since November 2017. They cover a wide variety, including genre festivals, and especially appreciates wit and representation on screen.

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