When you think of exorcism movies what comes to mind? Obviously “The Exorcist” and probably the recent slew of exorcism movies where, of course, a young woman is possessed and the very pure priest tries to exorcise said girl. What if I told you that this year saw a different kind of exorcism movie, one were the priests performing the exorcism aren’t pure at all, but quite the opposite and they use that impurity to their advantage. And what if I told you that said movie is also a lot of fun and has the feel of “Ghostbusters”… Do I have your attention? Good, ‘cause the movie I’m talking about is J.T. Petty’s “Hellbenders.”
From IMDB: “The Augustine Interfaith Order of Hellbound Saints, a team of blasphemous ministers who live in a constant state of debauchery, work to drag the worst of demons back to Hell.” However things get dark when two of the members try to exorcise an ancient Norse demon, only to have one of them become possessed with an ancient spirit intent on wiping out all of humanity. The remaining members must then put their feelings for the possessed priest aside as they attempt to thwart the demons’ world destruction plans and stop the corporate douchebag trying to shut down their entire operation.
There are three things about “Hellbenders” that make this movie shine bright. One is that the story is not only quite unconventional for an exorcism movie but it’s also incredibly engaging from start to finish, grabbing you by the throat and not letting go. Second is that there is an equal balance between the debaucherous comedy and the horror. Imagine “Ghostbusters” as a bloody, dark and demonic horror film and you get the idea of the tone of this film. Third, the best aspect of “Hellbenders” is its likable characters. From the beginning we are introduced to our wonderful band of sinner priests and we immediately like them. Again, think of the Ghostbusters but said Ghostbusters are priest that like to smoke, drink, and sin as much as possible. However out of our band of heroes the one that steals the show is Angus, the leader of the team, played by veteran actor Clancy Brown. He plays his character with such a half crazy flare to it that he will easily be your favorite of the bunch.
If you’re tired of the recent slew of PG-13 tween exorcism movies that have been flooding cinema the last few years, take the time to track down this offbeat and fun little exorcism movie. Like a good mouthwash this film will take away the taste of all those bad exorcism movies.
-James J. Coker