Killer dolls and psychopathic toys…
BENNY LOVES YOU (2021)
Killer dolls and psychopathic toys… we’ve seen a lot of this in horror, but new British comedy-horror asks a new question – what if the toy is doing it all to protect you because it loves you?
Benny Loves You director has clearly been influenced by many British comedy and comedy horrors of the past, and utilises a lot of these tools – camera misdirection, playing with speeds, genre switching – to varying effect. At its best, we get sequences like the house viewing in the middle of the film. Director Karl Holt goes for all out, over the top horror and mixes up the timeline so that we see the horrors before they unfold, playing with audience expectations.
A mild overuse of montages, they are still fun and silly, highlighting the immaturity of our lead and the insanity of the whole plot, but at times they feel as though they go on too long, as do many of the scenes.
When Jack finally decides it’s time to grow up and be an adult just before his 36th birthday, he realises it’s time to throw away his old toys, even beloved best friend Benny. By doing so, he unleashes a dark and vengeful magic that takes over Benny, who is going to make sure nobody loves Jack like he does.
It’s a fun plot, written by director and star Karl Holt, but at times it can drag and often feels as if there’s not enough film for the runtime. There’s a lot of promise in the premise, but it’s not completely fulfilled by the script. However for a first feature, it’s quite accomplished and manages to keep the audience’s attention for the majority of the runtime.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Writer/director Holt stars as Jack and manages to carry most of the film. He’s endearing and despite being immature and making some terrible choices when it comes to covering up murders, you can understand why love interest Dawn trusts in him.
Benny is the big character on screen, and despite having limited dialogue of “Benny loves you!” as well as almost no expression, the puppeteer and voice artist do a lot with a little, making him feel fully formed and engaging.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
Whilst Benny’s character is a plus, he’s the problem when it comes to the visuals on screen. Unfortunately the use of CGI to insert him into the scenes doesn’t blend at all and is at times awkward to view. The practical effects of violence however are so well done that they deserve to be the focus, yet only make the unblended CGI for Benny more obvious.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The music is brilliant, and by including a real mix of upbeat and sinister, it manages to get across the mood of scenes perfectly whilst keeping tempo high, especially needed in some extended fight scenes towards the end of the film.
As a whole, Benny Loves You is a good film, but not great. It has a lot of promise, as does writer/director/star (and cinematographer!) Karl Holt. It’s clear the film is a labour of love, and you can feel the heart as you watch, as well as see a few that get cut out. It won’t be an instant classic, but Benny Loves You will get some fans, and I look forward to seeing what’s next from Holt.
In Select Theaters May 7, On Demand May 11 and on Blu-ray June 8