Bingo Hell is a deliciously campy start for the newest lineup of Welcome to the Blumhouse additions releasing this year on Amazon Prime Video. In a follow-up to last year’s mixed bag of movies, we’ve got another exciting slate this year that includes Bingo Hell, Black as Night, Madres and The Manor. What’s great about these films is it’s a genuinely diverse slate featuring exciting casting choices and dynamic directors, many of whom are new to the field.
Releasing today are the first two films of the group, Bingo Hell and Black as Night. Bingo Hell is directed by Gigi Saul Guerrero, who previously directed the acclaimed Into the Dark: Culture Shock for Blumhouse and signed an overall deal with the company. While the premise behind Bingo Hell is relatively simple, it’s the cast and directing choices that shine here.
Oak Springs is a low-income neighborhood slowly succumbing to gentrification, but Lupita (Adriana Barraza) and her tight-knit group of friends are at the center of this community. Lupita and Dolores (L. Scott Caldwell) are long-time best friends who have worked hard to keep this neighborhood together and believe strongly in protecting themselves. So they’re fighting tooth and nail to prevent Oak Springs from losing everything once made it special.
But then a dark and mysterious man named Mr. Big (a fantastic over-the-top, chews-up-all-the-scenery performance from Richard Brake) comes to town and threatens to take away the last thing they have left, the bastion of their past, the beloved bingo hall. Lupita, Dolores and their friends must band together and stop him from ruining everything they’ve created.
Bingo Hell’s cast makes the film worth watching
What makes Bingo HelI work so well is the excellent casting. The chemistry between the lead characters, particularly Caldwell and Barazza, is mesmerizing. I could watch those two on-screen all day and never get bored. Plus, it’s not often you see older women depicted as fierce bada** leaders in film. It’s so fun to watch these women take charge and fight for what they believe in most of all.
I also appreciated Guerrero leaning into the campy premise of the main antagonist and providing homages to classic ’80s camp and B-movies with over-the-top practical effects. The kills and death scenes in this movie are some of the highlights because they genuinely…get under your skin.
My two criticisms are that despite the short runtime, the pacing is not great in Bingo Hell. It does slow down in weird places and feels longer than it should. Also, there is some fantastic humor in this movie, but it still feels restrained. I felt like there was a perfect horror-comedy brimming just beneath the surface, but it never quite gets there, which is disappointing because you can tell the cast is game, and the comedy that is present is pitch-perfect.
Overall, Bingo Hell is worth watching if only to appreciate the cast and practical effects, but I think viewers will find a lot to enjoy here. It’s the perfect way to start your October strong.
Bingo Hell is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.