Fantastic Fest 2021: ‘Bingo Hell’ Highlights Badass Viejitas

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Welcome to the Blumhouse brought stunning and diverse films last year and now, the anthology series is back for a second round. One of the first films out is Bingo Hell. The film is dirrected by Gigi Saul Guerrero, written by Guerrero, Shane McKenzie, and Perry Blackshear. Plus, the film features a stacked cast with Adriana Barraza, L. Scott Caldwell, Bertila Damas, Richard Brake, and Joshua Caleb Johnson.

Guerrero has hit horror out of the park with an episode of The Purge, her first feature Into the Dark: Culture Shock, and her short El Gigante. She showcased an eye for gore, impactful storytelling, and humor that shines through brilliantly in Bingo Hell. In the film, when a sinister figure threatens the residents of a low-income community, a badass viejita named Lupita tries to stop him. Lupita (Adriana Barraza) is the neighborhood activist who is trying her hardest to keep life in Oak Springs from changing with increasing gentrification.

But, when Lupita discovers that her beloved local bingo hall has been taken over by a mysterious businessman named Mr. Big (Richard Brake), she has to put up the hardest fight of her life. To fight off the nefarious big-wig, Lupita rallies her group of elderly friends to fight back. That said, this wouldn’t be a horror movie without longtime neighbors turning up dead under grisly circumstances and Lupita suddenly discovering that gentrification is the least of her problems. As the cash prizes increase and the body count steadily rises, Lupita must face the frightening realization that this game is truly winner-takes-all.

I’m going to be honest, Bingo Hell is really straightforward. Mr. Big unlocks an intense desire for money by showing players their deepest desires and warping them into painful monkey paw realizations. What makes this film unique is Guerrero’s approach to showcasing the old folks of Oak Springs. It’s them that take a premise we know well and craft a story that showcases the badassery of viejitas while also making the audience leave ready to listen to the elders in their life.

The horror in Bingo Hell perfectly alludes to the 80s with slime and cinematography that bring out nostalgia that works perfectly with its old-age cast. Additionally, there is one particular death that will make your skin crawl and make you think twice before scratching your shoulders. What adds to it all is the phenomenal sense of humor. Sure, that’s due to the script and some excellent choices for one-liners, but it’s also because this cast’s chemistry is showstopping.

Delores and Lupita are easily the best old ladies in horror and reflect a friendship I saw growing up between my wela and her next door neighbor. That said, while the whole cast knocks Bingo Hell out of the park, Lupita is the driving force of the film. She’s an abuela in the highest of forms. She cares about her community and the people around her with a fierceness that doesn’t ask to give you help but demands you accept. Lupita is every abuela, tia, or viejita you knew growing up who always had love to spare but a baseball bat ready if she needed.

Bingo Hell is spectacular and campy, and it’s a love letter to abuelas. To their strength. To their love. And to the unrelenting ferocity they have for protecting their communities. If you want something done in a neighborhood, ask the viejita down the street.

Bingo Hell screened at Fantastic Fest 2021 and premieres October 1, 2021 exclusively on Amazon Prime.


Bingo Hell
  • 7.5/10
    Rating - 7.5/10
7.5/10

TL;DR

Bingo Hell is spectacular and campy, and it’s a love letter to abuelas. To their strength. To their love. And to the unrelenting ferocity they have for protecting their communities. If you want something done in a neighborhood, ask the viejita down the street.