(director/writer: Gigi Saul Guerrero; screenwriters: teleplay by Guerrero/story by Shane McKenzie/Perry Blackshear; cinematographer: Byron Werner; editor: Andrew Wesman; music: Chase Horseman; cast: Adriana Barraza (Lupita), L. Scott Caldwell (Dorores), Joshua Caleb Johnson (Joshua),  Richard Brake (Mr. Big), Clayton Landey (Morris), Jonathan Medina (Eric), Bertila Damas (Yolanda), Grover Coulson (Clarence), Gigi Saul Guerrero (hipster), Kelly Murtagh (Raquel), David Jensen (Mario); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producer; Ian Watermeier: Amazon Prime Video; 2021)

“Plays hard and fast with reality and at being a zany B-film.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Gigi Saul Guerrero’s debut feature is a low-budget fantasy horror pic that plays hard and fast with reality and at being a zany B-film. Guerrero co-writes it with Shane McKenzie and Perry Blackshear.

It’s set in a working-class neighborhood in a
fictional town called Oak Springs (New Orleans), where some responsible parties led by the feisty, busybody, senior citizen neighborhood activist leader, Lupita (Adriana Barraza), try to keep out undesirables. But things get serious when their beloved Bingo Hall is purchased by a slimy demon-huckster called Mr. Big (Richard Brake). The Bingo Hall, a safe haven for the older locals, is turned into a casino and sucks the life out of the neighborhood when big prizes turn the winners for some inexplicable reason into monsters.

It’s up to Lupita to deal with saving the neighborhood from gentrification, Mr. Big, greedy realtors, monsters, hipsters and a Bingo Hall turned into a gambling place.

If you’re looking for something silly (filled with slapstick), a genial pic where it’s easy to root for the low-income underdogs and needy folks, Bingo Hell is worth a shout-out to. But if you’re looking for something with more heft, keep your distance from this middling film.

REVIEWED ON 10/5/2021  GRADE:  C+