Impressed by Ben O’Toole in Bloody Hell, we check out an early short featuring the actor.
One of the delights of watching indie and niche films is discovering new talent. Directors you’d never heard of. Actors who normally fill out the scenery getting a chance to be front-and-center. Intriguing cinematographers or stunt choreographers. Then you get to go down the rabbit hole and dig up more works from these artists.
This week I was really excited by what I saw in Bloody Hell, an indie action/horror flick with a great lead. So I decided to chase down other works Ben O’Otoole featured in. Wasn’t disappointed.
Two evil Henchmen (Ben O’Toole, Travis Jeffery) are sent to bury a coffin in the woods. Who or what does it contain? That’s out of their pay grade.
Oldie But a Goodie.
The inciting material in Hench is a bit out of date. Even back in 2015, satirical takes on what it must be like to be a supervillain’s henchman was already being ably pummeled by The Venture Bros. Luckily, like in Bloody Hell, good execution help breathe life into the material.
Just Regular Blokes.
O’Toole and Jeffery do most of the heavy lifting via dialogue, and Hench really shines because of it. If it wasn’t obvious that they were carrying a coffin, they could just be two working schlubs making a delivery for a boss they don’t particularly like. Their griping about work and small talk about family life are nicely juxtaposed with the dark material. You really feel some empathy for them as they kvetch about work-life balance…while burying a body.
Lampshade for Two.
My one criticism for Hench is that it could have used more subtlety. The music is good, but obviously goofy. I would have loved the package not to be so obviously a coffin. It would have made their argument about never knowing what they’re burying into a bigger hook.
You get plenty of hints that they are indeed henchman from their small talk (“You hear Mike got strung off a bridge last week?”) If there was a least a little ambiguity, the payoff would have been better. It also would have heightened the disconnect between “just two guys doing a job” and “amoral guys doing something shady.”
Five Minute Break.
Hench stays firmly in its lane and pulls off its idea competently, if not spectacularly. The film really benefits from the well-written dialogue and solid delivery of the two leads. I doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s a fun go around, nonetheless. You can find it here on Dust.