This trio of films has its flaws, but I would definitely not pass up any of them. Each one has its own very distinct personality for sure.
Hellbenders is a pretty fun premise—a bunch of deadbeat messes join forces to fight demons. They also intentionally live in a state of debauchery so they can remain close to hell in case they ever have to drag a demon back there.
However, living in a constant state of unforgivable sin includes the most predictable judgments, one of the main ones being homosexuality. That’s right. Having gay sex in Hellbenders is a sure way to be close to hell—and a portal to beastiality. In this case, with a rabbit. Yeah. They go there. Plus, one of the old cranks in the demon hunting group just loves calling everyone a faggot (the sheriff from Pet Sematary II).
If you can get past the blatantly over-the-top anti-gay absurdity of the film, it’s loaded with a combination of adolescent humor and cool demonic possession exorcism scenes. It also happens to wear out its welcome, becoming incredibly obnoxious and repetitive after a while (especially the old crank’s excessive use of “cocksucker”). But the final exorcism, which takes place at a big bonfire, is a gory good time.
THE BABADOOK (2014)
Behind all the style and substance of widely praised The Babadook is a film that has so much potential to terrify due to an evil night visitor totally worthy of horror icon status. As tense as the scenes are that promise the emergence of this cloaked creep who originates in a horrifying children’s book a single mother reads to her bratty son, the movie ends up becoming a big cliché that steals from movies like Poltergeist, The Exorcist, and The Ring and relies on typical scares like knocks on doors, scary phone calls, and bugs pouring out of holes. It all manages to weaken a heart-pounding concept.
And so does the fucking annoying kid who is so painfully shrill and unlikeable from the very start.
Please, Babadook. Shut him up and put us all out of our misery.
The mother doesn’t help build much sympathy either because she is such a miserable mess. While their characters’ behaviors are in place to represent themes of coping with loss and grief, the dark side of loneliness and depression, and unhealthy bonds a mother and child can form when they only have each other, I kind of wanted them to fall into a pit of hellish despair so they’d just shut up….
I so want a copy of this terrifying children’s book.
On top of that, the movie’s pacing is choppy and disjointed, the slow burn never picks up, and the ending—aside from the freaky Babadook himself watering down to just another possession figure instead of delivering on his own unique identity—is kind of ridiculous and not in keeping at all with the rest of the film. Unless you go with some deep analysis, like maybe the only way to tame the misery in your life is to bury it in your basement…and feed its miserable dead ass worms?
But who cares about all that serious stuff? When The Babadook is scary, he’s terrifying!
DEVIL’S TOWER (2014)
Devil’s Tower is a rather schizo experience. It starts fairly dark and foreboding, but suddenly shifts to horror comedy insanity to accommodate the presence of Jason Mewes of Jay & Silent Bob, who is introduced about halfway through the movie. It also plays out like a spooky supernatural ghost story at first then winds up in campy zombie outbreak territory so that Jason can be the big zombie slaying hero.
It’s almost as if someone is just pulling the characters’ strings and tossing them into random situations, no matter how messy it makes the storyline.
Why so scared and serious? Oh. Jason Mewes hasn’t shown up yet.
In fact, that’s pretty much exactly what is happening. It’s hard to even explain. Our main girl moves into a big tenement apartment building after her abusive mother kicks her out. This creepy place is filled with an eclectic group of eccentrics. My personal favorite is the sexy blonde chick who ties up her boyfriend with only a rubber glove over his package before whipping out the anal beads!
But it’s not all sex fun and games. Our main girl has to contend with ghostly apparitions, blackouts, squatters breaking into her apartment, and her cruel mother, who just won’t leave her alone. That’s all on top of something really weird that’s going on inside her television….
Devil’s Tower is fucking wacky! As it moves away from its eerie beginnings and gets into trippy, nonsensical territory, it feels more like cheesy direct-to-VHS stuff from the 80s. The good stuff. There’s a party. There’s lipstick lesbian sex. There’s a ghost girl. There’s an armchair corpse calling the shots. There’s a hot guy showing off a banging body while banging a chick. And then there’s the gory zombie outbreak, which even includes a male zombie who can’t keep his eyes off the hot guy’s package.
And that’s followed by….
Is that a zombulge…or a devil’s tower?
And there are plenty of self-referential jokes about being trapped in a horror movie. I think the only downside to Devil’s Tower is that it wasted the first hour not being as dumb as the last awesome twenty minutes.
You’ll be shocked to learn that Devil’s Tower is my favorite of these three films.