Bingo Hell: Film Review by Bingo Expert
Bingo Hell is a new horror movie released on Amazon Prime this October as part of the “Welcome to the Blumhouse” anthology series. It’s not often that a mainstream film is centred around our beloved game so it’s quite an event. The movie has received fairly positive reviews so far from the film critics. But what about the bingo critics? Our editor gives it a watch to see what all the fuss is about.
Bingo Hell (a play on Bingo Hall) takes place in a run-down, American town called Oak Springs. The glue that binds the community together is the town’s matriarchal Granny, Lupita, played by Academy Award nominated Mexican actress Adriana Barraza.
This local busy body is all up in the town’s business and balks at what she sees as the fast moving gentrification that’s taking over her community. A hipster coffee shop has just opened up (alongside a soon to arrive Microbrewery) and she takes out her anger by barging into an unsuspecting coffee goer with a large grin on her face.
What signifies her position in the community the most, however, is the weekly bingo night that she runs with her friend Dolores at the town hall. Geriatric stalwarts of the community gather together at the dimly lit bingo hall to drink beer and win small prizes donated by the community, like a free haircut.
However, it all goes downhill when a mysterious figure buys the premises and turns it into Mr Big’s Bingo, offering a Las Vegas like experience and huge cash prizes. But at what cost…
Bingo Hell is a fairly low-budget picture from the production house that has brought out recent horror classics like Get Out, Paranormal Activity and the Purge. However, it deals with an interesting social commentary in quite a novel way.
The game of Bingo is integral to the plot of the movie, but also to its themes. The reason it works is because there’s no better shorthand for community than playing bingo in a bingo hall with friends and neighbours.
When Mr. Big comes to town, offering massive prizes, many of the townspeople get sucked in. The new commercialised bingo hall offers people a quick fix and many start to win. But let’s just say they don’t live very long to tell the tale.
The movie’s exploration of its themes like community spirit and corrupting capitalism is pretty effective. For this reason, the thrills, chills and pulpy gore don’t seem all that gratuitous. And again, it’s worth pointing out that part of the reason the film works so well is because of the way bingo is invoked throughout.
So what of the bingo itself? As it’s set in America, they play 75 Ball bingo, which is increasingly available in the UK as well. In this form of the game, each bingo ball has a letter and number, because of the B-I-N-G-O columns on the 75 ball card. There are a few scenes where bingo is played, in its most simple iteration in the town hall as well as in the more glitzy, Vegas-like Mr. Big’s Bingo.
For the way the film uses bingo, we give the film 5/5! However, as a movie, it’s a solid 3/5 and we’d definitely recommend giving it a watch.
Bingo Hell is available to stream now on Amazon Prime.