Anyone who’s read Straight Outta Kanto’s previous reviews will know that I like my budgets low and my horror, comedy. That being said, when going in to what one knows in advance is a low budget horror comedy, it’s always a gamble of “Will I enjoy laughing at this ‘cos it’s so bad?” or “Will I enjoy laughing at this ‘cos it’s actually a bloody good film?” Mercifully, the 2019 UK horror comedy Benny Loves You falls into the latter category.
As a Master of Disbelief Suspension I have in my time been able to wholly indulge in cinema with some truly bonkers concepts. “Benny Loves You” is an absolute 90 minute riot of teddy bear fuelled blood (or in some cases, spaghetti hoops) spattered madness that really puts the Laughter in Slaughter. Dig if you can the picture (deliberate Prince reference, watch the movie to see why!) of poor ageing millennial Jack Hunt. Still lives at home with dear old mum and dad; passed over time and again for promotion at his job; might still be a virgin; no friends – unless a vast collection of horror and nerd memorabilia scattered around his childhood bedroom can be classed as “friends.” (For my own sake, I hope they can be!) Jack, is a loner. Nay! Jack, is a loser!
After a series of bizarre, freak incidents on his 40th birthday, (“I’m 35!”) the universe is telling Jack that the time has come to put childish things away and become… a man. However, not all childish things are quite so willing to be locked down in a musty basement and forgotten.
As the tag line says “Hell Hath No Fury Like a Teddy Bear Scorned.”
“Benny Loves You” is a concept that has been explored in movies such as Toy Story, Child’s Play and noughties Korean horror “The Doll Master”. It taps in to the universal questions we all ask in youth: “Do my toys play by themselves when I’m not there? What happens if my toys came to life in front of me? Do toys have feelings? If I throw my teddy bear away will he transcend into a sentient malevolent being and one day return on a murderous revenge fuelled rampage mercilessly butchering all those near and dear to me?”
While sweet, Satanic, discarded stuffie Benny is indeed the adorable star of the show, I must give a standing ‘O’ to the cast for their top-notch portrayals of some uproariously obnoxious characters. (Richard, as in, Risharde, was a particular favourite of mine. As in, favourite I would like to punch. You will too, I assure you.)
The script is well paced with cut-glass sharp dialogue and interactions. (Fun fact, the movie was written and directed by Karl Holt who always plays the loner, I mean lead, Jack!).
Phenomenal use of slick horror movie style cinematography to add absurd drama to banal moments. This film was evidently made by a crew of retro horror fanatics. I loved keeping an eye out for all the different 70s and 80s movie references, it added an authenticity to the world of Benny.
Excellent use of montages for both pathos as well as comedic effect, you will be bawling your eyes out during this and not just with laughter – although brace yourself for that.
It’s not all tender moments and hilarious ninja teddy montages though. The gore FX and creature animation are brilliant. I love smugly trying to de-construct “how did they do that!?” when watching movies like this and I’m still stumped on how they got the toys to do their thing. I was peering for fish wire and puppet strings the whole time to no avail!
The make up effects for one of the deaths towards the end was so gross it actually made me throw up a little in my mouth too. (That’s a good thing, I assure you.)
I know hardened movie snobs scorn horror-comedies, but I defy them to scorn this one. If they do chances are Benny will come after them for a… “cuddle.” So, lights off, microwave popcorn on and make some room on the sofa for Benny! Hug your teddies extra tight tonight, too.
Straight Outta Kanto is the nerdy nom de plume of international horror-shock musician, illustrator and radio personality Venus de Vilo.
Straight Outta Kanto is a podcast and review blog dedicated to bringing it’s audience the warped and weirdest in nerd culture, nightmare fuel and 90s/00s nostalgia.
Champion of the Shurikon 2018 Pokémon League competition, certified VGC Dragon Gym Leader and CEO of Pokémon Fan Club Ireland, Straight Outta Kanto is an unapologetic otaku and psychotic J-Horror fanatic.