A Uneven Mix of Comedy and Horror Leaves Hellbenders Feeling More Unsettling Than Fun

A Uneven Mix of Comedy and Horror Leaves <i>Hellbenders</i> Feeling More Unsettling Than Fun

A clever twist on the exorcism genre fails to pan out in this ambitious but uneven horror-comedy. When an exorcism goes awry, the Catholic Church calls on the Hellbound Saints of Brooklyn Parish, a team of six priests who spend their days getting "damnation ready."

Boozers, dopers, and sex fiends, each is willing to commit suicide if that's what it takes to yank a given demon straight down to Hell. For a while, writer-director J.T. Petty and his cast, headed by veteran character actors Clancy Brown and Clifton Collins Jr., exult in the joke of debauchery-lovin' priests, but after an ancient Norse god is set loose on the world, the film gradually tilts toward full-on horror. Aided by capable if unnecessary 3D effects, Petty displays a flair for staging violent action, but he's trapped inside a broad comic set-up that doesn't mesh with the story's innate meanness.

That Norse god, for example, has been living inside a physically challenged child who's been chained in a basement for 30 years, a setting and circumstance so grisly and unpleasant that not even the Ghostbusters of yore could find a joke to crack.


Directed by J.T. Petty
Opens October 18
Available on demand

Subscribe to the Voice Film Club podcast

Subscribe to the Voice Film Club podcast

My Voice Nation Help

Now Showing

Find capsule reviews, showtimes & tickets for all films in town.

Box Office Report

Join My Voice Nation for free stuff, film info & more!

Movie Trailers