Spooky season is upon us, and with it, Blumhouse and Amazon have teamed up once again to bring brand new horror to the small screen. To kick things off, we have Bingo Hell, which is getting on for the worst film I’ve watched in quite a while. After seeing the shotgun-toting granny in the preview image on Prime, I was expecting trashy fun as the very worst-case scenario. I was wrong to have such high expectations. It was just plain ol’ trash.
This review of the Amazon Prime film Bingo Hell (by the Horror series Welcome to the Blumhouse) does not contain spoilers.
Amazon’s Bingo Hell follows Lupita (Adriana Barraza), a long-time resident of Oak Springs. The place is a run-down suburb slowly being encroached upon by a younger, more hip crowd, and she has no time for it. When the local bingo hall is taken over by the overly-bizarre Mr Big (Richard Brake), it’s the last straw for her, and she tries to get the rest of her neighbours on-board with boycotting the place, but it has some strange draw that they can’t turn away from (which is not a problem the film itself shares I can assure you).
Thank the powers that be for this film having such a weird opening because otherwise I wouldn’t know where to start. Sometimes, an introductory sequence that leaves you completely agog is a good thing — not the case here. I don’t really see what purpose it served. It seemed like it was attempting to lift the film to a slightly higher level than it actually sat at by throwing in a little bit of non-linear storytelling, but in all honesty, it just drove an even bigger wedge between Bingo Hell and myself because I spent so long trying to figure out what had actually happened and what relevance it posed to the rest of the film.
When the film properly got underway, there was a brief glimmer of hope as I met the protagonist and her sidekick for the first time. It was already apparent that whatever this was to blossom into, Bingo Hell was going to be a wacky ride, and so two old ladies taking the lead definitely had the potential to work. Unfortunately, Lupita was an easier character to like when I didn’t really know her. She was a real neighborhood busybody who couldn’t do a lap of the block without stopping to put the world to rights with everyone she bumped into, and before long the film had turned into a live-action reenactment of all those posts you see in community Facebook groups.
Something else that didn’t take too long to rub me the wrong way was the film editing. Slap-dash just about covers it. You know when something just doesn’t look right? Well, that goes for how a lot of shots were put together here. In places, it felt more like I was looking at a rough cut that hadn’t been fine-tuned yet. In fairness, it would fit with the very low budget I suspect Bingo Hell had, but it felt like an area where the film had the power to do better and just… decided not to.
As the story progressed and the beloved bingo hall was taken over, we finally met Mr. Big and his new enterprise. I was holding out hope for Richard Brake’s arrival on the scene because he usually makes things more interesting and by now you can probably guess Bingo Hell was in desperate need of that. Combine this with the new setting of the renovated hall which, with the lighting design and music, was now resembling a carnival funhouse, it looked like things were about to improve somewhat. Once again, I was wrong. Both elements did bring some sort of uptick to the film, but that seemed to give permission to the rest of it to kick back and have a rest. Many of the performances began to leave a lot to be desired, the editing started to wear my eyes out, and just to spice things up even further I was treated to some rather upsetting special effects, and some of the worst music covers I’ve ever heard.
The thing is, Bingo Hell is so out there it could’ve worked had it have leaned into the right elements. If you think of The Evil Dead and how ham that went in terms of the violence and gore, that was the route it should’ve gone down in my opinion; something that would’ve been a rip-roaring good time no matter how technically great it was. Instead, it invested far too much in its main character who was borderline ridiculous and ended up being something that you’d expect to see on the horror channel in a bid to fill out the schedule. Not a great start to the spooky season.
What did you think of Amazon Prime film Bingo Hell by Welcome to the Blumhouse? comment below.