Holy Hell is the latest exercise in “grindhouse appreciation” or “exploitation homage” from a close-knit production crew who undoubtably had fun making an insane, politically incorrect vigilante yarn. The audience, unfortunately, won’t be feeling that same heedless joy.
Ryan LaPlante’s over-the-top action movie has been compared to Jason Eisener’s canuxploitation flick Hobo with a Shotgun, but really it has more in common with Lee Demarbre’s shoestring schlock Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter – the production qualities rock the same resourceful mantras. However, no matter how tattered JCVH was, it had a quirky charm that made viewers root for the filmmakers – successfully making it a guilty pleasure. The obscene and junky Holy Hell, on the other hand, has contempt for its audience. It’s a film that wants movie goers to squirm and laugh in embarrassment throughout its run – that gets tiring awfully fast.
To list the gags in Holy Hell would only entice some readers. To state that each joke lands with an immature squish hopefully captures the disappointment I had with LaPlante’s pun-heavy, immature screenplay.
Making the film even more of a vanity project, LaPlante plays Father Augustus Bane, a priest who decides to clean up his ratty community using the business end of a revolver he calls “the Lord”. LaPlante tries with all of his might to push the boundaries with comedic sex, graphic gore, and colourful vocabulary. To an extent he’s succeeded, but at what cost? By doing so, he numbs the audience within the first 20-minutes to anything that could “up the ante” later in the film.
At least the cast and crew will enjoy Holy Hell. Others may find themselves deciding to pack it in halfway through the flick. They’ll want to be well-rested for other, more competent movies featured at this year’s Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival.
Holy Hell screens at the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival on:
Friday, November 25 at 11:59 p.m. @ Toronto’s Cineplex Yonge and Dundas
For more information on the festival, visit the official BITS webpage here.
Buy tickets here.
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