A small-town bingo hall is one of the least likely places to have as a setting for a horror movie – but that’s exactly where the carnage takes place in genre filmmaker Gigi Saul Guerrero’s aptly-named Bingo Hell.
When a mysterious stranger known as Mr Big (Richard Brake) takes over the local bingo hall, transforming it into an extravagant neon-drenched establishment overnight, he promises life-changing cash prizes for his lucky winners, with the awards guaranteed to increase each night. However, winning comes at a deadly cost. Suspecting something isn’t right, a group of no-nonsense elderly residents decide to fight back.
One of two new additions alongside Black as Night set to kick off the second half of Amazon’s Welcome to the Blumhouse anthology series (previous entries included The Lie, Black Box, Evil Eye and Nocturne), Guerrero’s new feature sets its sights on being an offbeat, over-the-top, low-budget romp. All the pieces are there and the director does her utmost to inject terror into bingo. There’s even a handful of gratifyingly gory moments sprinkled throughout to please horror fans. But, despite the filmmaker’s efforts, the final product is cartoonish to an irritating extent.
The ensemble cast of characters, especially leading lady Lupita (Adriana Barraza), are exaggerated caricatures insofar as it becomes difficult to become invested in their plight in any significant way. Likewise, their hyperactive performances soon wear thin and quickly become more annoying than quirky. Brake’s performance is arguably the only part of this movie which benefits from its overall silliness; but the actor is criminally underused and unable to make much of an impression.
A bigger problem with Bingo Hell is that it embraces a made-for-TV production style with no justification for doing so. The bright colour palette and bland but chirpy musical score, like one heard in many a lousy Christmas flick, should have blended with the absurd premise and goofy gore to make for a fun contrast – but they just don’t. Rather, the film comes across as another forgettable TV movie, and that surely wasn’t the intention here.
Bingo Hell is released on Amazon Prime Video on 1st October 2021.
Watch the trailer for Bingo Hell here: