Holy Hell (2015) [Blood in the Snow 2016]

holy-hellAfter witnessing a troubled family, the Bonners, decimated by a murderous family, the MacFarlanes, Father Bane goes on a rampage punishing those he deems not deserving of forgiveness with his new handgun, The Lord.  As he punishes left and right and protects the only surviving member of the family, he also decides to go after the murderous, incestuous killers. Written and directed by Ryan LaPlante, Holy Hell throws everything possible at the screen, violence, sex, incest, rape, murder, blood, gore, inappropriate jokes, insensitive jokes, bad jokes, and the whole nine in an effort to be shocking or subversive.  This is done with zero good taste and penchant for exaggerated action and ridiculous dialogue.

The film’s premise is clear and it lends itself to this very well.  However, the way it is put together is seems to be simply done to shock and make some people mad more than to entertain the ones who might like the style it has or its humor.  While it’s not entirely bad, it has very few redeeming qualities. The cast for this is led by its writer/director as Father Augustus Bane and Alysa King as Amy, the sole survivor of the massacre.  In the parts of the father to the MacFarlane clan is Michael Rawley and in the part of his transgendered daughter Sissy is Shane Patrick McClurg.  The four of them, as well as the rest of the cast, act in a specific way that is a bit over the top, a bit exaggerated, and sadly after a while, a bit too much.  Of course, given the material, they have to go over the top to make it work as best as possible.

The special effects by Jill LaPlante have good looking blood and lots of it.  The CGI is not on par with the blood sadly.  As per usual, the CGI fire is not good, and once again leading to think that CGI fire should just be avoided in general.  The effects are sometimes ok, something look like they are not even trying, which may be a stylistic choice or just a budgetary limitation. The musical choices to accompany all of this are interesting; the only credit available for this on the film’s IMDB page is Jeff Suddaby who is credited as the composer of additional music.  The music is fun and fitting with the scenes.

Holy Hell is everything and the kitchen sink, with lots of violence and blood, about a priest on a warpath wanting to purge all the bad people.  It’s super exaggerated about everything which becomes a bit much very quickly.  There is some breaking of the 4th wall and some odd acting choices, it’s a film that is clearly ridiculous on purpose with lots of mayhem and that may appeal fans of 60s to 70s exploitation/crazy films, but it may be better for those with a sense of humor that runs on the crude to inappropriate side with very little left to imagination or left untouched.  Holy Hell is not for everyone but it will most likely find its audience in late night screenings and very particular fans of its genre and sub-genre.

Blood in the Snow Film Festival runs until November 27th, 2016.