Last year, horror fans everywhere got to experience the first edition of Welcome to the Blumhouse, which consisted of four new thrillers that came with a distinctive perspective. Now, the second wave of Welcome to the Blumhouse films is set to hit our eyeballs just in time for the Halloween season. Starting with Gigi Saul Guerrero’s BINGO HELL, viewers will get a dose of humor, fun, and chaotic bloody goodness in this horror flick.
BINGO HELL stars Adriana Barraza (Babel), L. Scott Caldwell (“Lost”), Richard Brake (3 From Hell), and Joshua Caleb Johnson (The Good Lord Bird). The film is directed by Gigi Saul Guerrero (Into The Dark: Culture Shock), who co-wrote the screenplay with Shane McKenzie (La Quinceañera) and Perry Blackshear (The Siren).
Starting off with an opener that sets a chaotic-enriched tone, viewers are introduced to Lupita (Adriana Barraza), a feisty senior neighborhood activist who is determined to try to keep the low-income community of Oak Springs together. However, the threat of gentrification is upon the community as more neighbors are selling businesses and homes and leaving the once tight-knit neighborhood. Things start taking on a more sinister note when the local bingo hall is bought by a totally-sus-as-all-sus-can-get businessman, Mr. Big (Richard Brake). It’s not long before Lupita’s friends and neighbors start being sucked in by the shiny, glossy allure of his new Bingo Hall. And, not long after, bodies start to drop. As the clock starts to tick, Lupita must determine whether or not she can protect her neighborhood from its biggest threat yet, or will she end up bottoms up.
BINGO HELL is easily one of the most extra, silly, and fun in the overall tone of the four Welcome to the Blumhouse films this year. Whether it is the death scenes executed onscreen, with disorienting camerawork that aims to keep the audience’s heads reeling just as much as the would-be victims, or the flashy overwhelming nature of the Casino set-up in the new Bingo Hall, this film will definitely keep people on their toes. The way the film is edited along with the actors, all of which whom are game to whatever gets thrown at them, and the snappy script, this film is entertaining viewing. If people are looking for something a little more serious in tone, this may not be the film for them. Even with the undercurrent storyline regarding the community’s relationship with the rapidly disappearing Oak Springs in the midst of realtors and hipsters wanting to take up space. This is a tonally lighter affair.
One of the major successes of BINGO HELL is in part due to the performances and strongly developed characters we see onscreen. Both Adriana Barraza and Richard Brake veer more over-the-top in their delivery. But the earnestness in their performances, especially with Brake’s Mr. Big literally oozing sleaze, all absolutely works. Especially with the tone Guerrero and crew have set. L. Scott Caldwell is also an endearing favorite. Her line delivery is ace, with her Dolores trying her damnedest to reel her crazy ass friend in. By the film’s climactic final act, viewers will be hard-pressed to not want anything bad to happen to Barraza’s Lupita, flaws and all, and her friend Dolores. All of this is a testament to the work put in by the actors, the strength of the character development in the script, and Guerrero’s direction.
There is one particular plot moment in BINGO HELL that didn’t connect towards the final act of the film. Leading up to this point, there is some character development to hint at the moral compromises Lupita makes. However, it doesn’t read as if enough was done to connect the dots. But I’m not entirely certain if it is an issue stemming from Barazza’s approach to the character or the writing itself, but when we hit that particular moment in the final act, the comparisons one would naturally draw during that moment fell a little short. That, coupled with the final revelation from Lupita and Barazza’s delivery, does make it seem a bit hollow.
BINGO HELL is a fun and, occasionally, silly horror flick, with slick pacing, characters you can’t help but root for, and some pretty extra death scenes. While it can be easy to get swept up in the pomp and flash featured in the film, at its core, BINGO HELL has plenty of heart. With its tale of a low-income community fighting against the rapidly escalating wave of gentrification, it’s a story that will feel hit home for many. Definitely recommend adding this to the viewing roster!
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