Imagine if Tiffany had enough of Chucky and left his murderous ego and decided to shack up with Elmo and eventually they had a child! Well that is Benny and he loves his owner just a little too much, in a horror that will appease those who love cheap Slasher antics…
Lacking the main box office vibe of our favourite Good Guy’s Doll, its easy on the outset to dismiss Benny Loves You as a cheap British version of Child’s Play, with an Elmo kind of toy running amok, slaughtering those who threaten to stand in his way.
Yes, comparisons will be made, but while it took until Chucky’s bride to turn up for the franchise to move away from horror and into the path of comedy scares, Benny just wants to have fun, be in some ways a “Shaun Of The Dead” for puppetry horror. The end result is a quirky tale in which your enjoyment will depend on how much you love your horror when it’s served up in a cheap bloody package. This offering my not appease many, but it’s surely destined for the “cult” brigade.
Writer/Director and Star, Karl Holt plays Jack, a thirty something guy who still lives with his parents and basically is a man child, haven’t yet embraced adulthood, who still celebrates his birthday like he is nine years of age and bringing home women for a one night stand who are aghast to find his bedroom a shrine of his teenage years. Much like his personal life, his job as a toy designer is faltering, an underachiever who is just sleeping through each passing year until, in a delightful dark horror comedy set-piece, his world changes forever and Jack finally needs to become a man, save his childhood home, get that much needed promotion in work, but firstly he needs to get rid of his childhood toy Benny.
Not quite in the heartfelt way in which we all shared a tear when Andy decided to get rid off Woody, Buzz and the gang, Jack clears his room, and starts afresh, only for Benny, a floppy eared Elmo type to somehow come to life and like the poster tag clearly states “Hell hath no fury like a teddy scorned” and soon blood is being spilled, with guts aplenty appearing on screen.
Plot-wise that’s about it, but those wanting a straight horror fest my be disappointed even though Benny himself is such a wonderful creation that you just can’t take your eyes off him when he is onscreen. The policy here is simply to make this a slapstick tale and while I can only admire the effort on show, you can not help but feel the “sitcom feel” did not help for large parts of the film.
You can clearly see that Holt is a gifted comedy actor and his Jack who comes across as an immature, bumbling idiot whose own decision making at times, borders on ridiculous, but while I was totally onboard with that, the fact that the characters around him are also bumbling idiots, makes the film at times feel like a bit of a drag, looking for cheap laughs when they clearly did not have too.
Case in point are the two Police Officers who show up Jack’s door, wanting nothing more than Custard Creams and recalling memories of the two Officers who showed up in Halloween V, with only their own comedy signature missing to complete the homage. Add a stuttering boss whose love of his dog, clearly signposts a “certain death” and also a Co-worker who is the typical “brown nosed employer” who eventually you can not wait for Benny to find and do what he does best.
Only Claire Cartwright’s Dawn shows some degree of normality, offering up a comforting arm around Jack and then having to face her own “childhood nightmares” in a clear spoof of the Annabelle franchise (and a nod to Gremlins) that only reminds you in just how ridiculous the concept of that Conjuring spin off is.
It may seem on reading that I am being negative on this whole show, but there are some moments that clearly took my breath away. While some of you may sigh at the cartoonish scenes of Jack trying to clear up the mess of a butchered body while the police wait outside his door, everyone will be in agreement that the scenes of Benny are stunning. Holt is clearly a talented and creative director who is destined for great things. There are scenes that betray the cheap budget, Benny flying through broken glass, holding a kitchen knife took my breath away and the film clearly soars when this demented toy is having fun.
There are some inventive kills, which includes a Vacuum Cleaner being used to great effect and slasher fans will no doubt lap up the carnage and as we get to the climatic battle that engulfs memories of “Small Soldiers“, for a few of you, there is no doubt you would have fully embraced the madness on show and have a new onscreen killer toy to rave about.
Its not perfect by any means, a horror comedy destined for “cult classic” status as when the final credits roll, you may know that Benny Loves You, but the question is, do you love Benny?