Gigi Saul Guerrero’s Bingo Hell

Gigi Saul Guerrero’s Bingo Hell is a clever, super gory, socially conscious little slice of societal satire wrapped in a vicious, slimy cautionary tale, it comes to us as part of the yearly round of borderline anthology output called “Welcome To Blumhouse”, ostensibly a mini horror film festival with fierce, imaginative original entries from new filmmakers. Set in an obscure L.A. barrio that’s halfway towards tofu eating, hipster overrun gentrification and halfway hanging onto the old school ways for dear life, a group of elderly friends finds themselves forced into a jarring new way of life when their beloved, modest bingo hall gets bought out by a mysterious magnate named Mr. Big (the inimitable Richard Brake). Led by feisty Lupita (Adriana Barraza), these old timers make a stand and fight to fend off the advances of this sinister businessman who is using obviously supernatural methods to lure members of their group in with promises of big wins and big bucks, an act of selling their soul to the grind of progress that has hellish, gory, ill fated consequences. The themes are surprisingly grounded for such a quick, breezy Grindhouse flick and one gets a real sense of care put into the script. Barraza is a fierce protagonist and Brake, as usual, makes a leering, memorable, deranged cartoonish villain in the best way, a living personification of of Big Money mania, he’s a presence that serves any film well. I’m reminded of last years VFW, a somewhat similar horror film about old timers defending what’s theirs from encroaching forces. They both have the same neon soaked, madcap gory vibes that I love to see in the genre. This is a solid effort from an exciting new voice in horror, and I’m stoked to see what she creates next.

-Nate Hill