Director: Gigi Saul Guerrero
Writers: Gigi Saul Guerrero, Shane McKenzie, and Perry Blackshear
Starring: Adriana Barraza, L. Scott Caldwell, Richard Brake, Joshua Caleb Johnson, Clayton Landey, Jonathan Medina, Bertila Damas, Grover Coulson, Kelly Murtagh, and David Jensen
The newest in the Welcome to the Blumhouse series, Bingo Hell, is available on Amazon Prime now. Welcome to the Blumhouse is a joint venture between Bumhouse Productions and Amazon Prime, to release stand alone horror stories that are linked by themes. Four films were released last October and four more are being released this year with the first two being Bingo Hell and Black as Night.
Bingo Hell follows a group of senior citizens who are all frequent visitors to their local bingo hall, where they raise funds to support the community and have a good time. One night the power goes out, and they call it a day. The next morning, they wake up to find fliers attached to their doors saying the bingo hall is under new management. Big prizes are up for grabs, bigger than anything the residents of Oak Springs have ever seen before. It sounds too good to be true and as people start disappearing and dying, it becomes clear there’s something else going on.
The story has been done before in every which way possible. It’s a new person coming to town who charms everyone but one person, who doesn’t trust them. It’s a tried and tested formula and for the most part it works with Bingo Hell purely because the cast is so strong. The main group of characters who care about their community and their bingo hall are all fantastic. The interplay between them makes this film worth watching.
The effects are also fantastic. There’s a scene where someone tears their own skin off, and it is eye wateringly gory. There isn’t much beyond that though that’s actually scary. There’s no tension or jump scares, it’s also not funny enough to be a comedy horror. It just moves along at its own pace. If the characters weren’t so interesting the whole thing would fall flat.
The film spends enough time with the characters, specifically Lupita (Adraiana Barraza, The Strain) and Dolores (L. Scott Caldwell, Lost), that you do care enough about them to keep the rest of the film entertaining. Once the horror starts, it’s very predictable and takes a long time to really get going. There are some great moments in there, but they are also long sequences that are really bland in between.
Bingo Hell has a great title, excellent characters but has no true horror. It’s entertaining enough, but falls squarely into that category of watch if you can’t find anything else and since it is an Amazon Prime original, there will always be something else.