Bad Ben: Benign Image

Bad Ben: Benign

By Bobby LePire | November 1, 2021

Bad Ben: Benign is the ninth chapter in the Bad Ben saga. Created by director-writer-star Nigel Bach, evidently, each franchise entry follows the evil entity haunting the residents of Steelmanville Road. However, this is the only one I’ve seen, so my understanding there could be off to some degree. But never mind those entries; let us dive into this sequel.

After a bit of text explaining that what is being shown is security footage from a particular house, the film begins proper with a middle-aged man (Nigel Bach) running towards it from the surrounding woods. The front door is locked, ringing the doorbell does not awaken whoever lives here, but this man is desperate to get in. So, he crawls in through an unlocked window.

It takes a while to discover what exactly is happening and who this man is. My initial thought was that he was breaking into someone else’s house to get away from whatever was in the forest that made him scramble out of there so quickly. But no, it turns out that this is his place, and he’s attempting to excise the demon, Pazuzu, haunting it.

“…he’s attempting to excise the demon, Pazuzu, haunting it.”

So this man is Bad Ben, named such because he’s such a badass at taking down evil supernatural beings? Well, no, the main character, in fact, for 90% of the runtime, the only person on screen, is called Tom Riley. So, who is the Bad Ben of the title? To be honest, after the 100-minutes of Bad Ben: Benign, I’m still not sure. Tom invokes him for help (?) very late in the game, but the titular character does nothing of actual consequence. Yes, the title confuses by its very name. Also, aside from being an awkward pun, the subtitle is inaccurate, as the angry spirit that Tom faces is not benign at all. And the inclusion of the floating head of Father Murphy (Steve Reynolds) adds another layer of bewilderment.

But does the found footage offering have anything of merit? Quite a bit, actually, just none of it involves the scenario at hand. For starters, Bach is pretty good as Tom. He plays the man’s frustrations and fears well. He also has a decent sense of comedic timing, demonstrated when Tom opines to no one how proud he is that he got rid of a poltergeist in only 20 minutes. The filmmaker also works in a few solid jump scares, the one involving a ton of cat toys proving to be pretty memorable.

Plus, as things finally start to heat up, Bach employs several creative special effects that highlight how skilled he is. The glitching of the shots when Pazuzu appears are excellent, and the disembodied head works better than it sounds on paper. The fire does look a little chintzy, though even big studio movies with hundreds of millions of dollars often don’t get the inferno to move or burn quite right.

I have no idea if existing fans will enjoy Bad Ben: Benign or how closely it hues to the style/tone/atmosphere/plotting of the other eight entries. While the narrative will confuse anyone not already up to date with the franchise, the flick still offers a decent amount of elements to hold their attention. Bach is rock solid as the sole focus of the story, while his editing and effects skills prove to be top-notch.

Bad Ben: Benign (2021)

Directed and Written: Nigel Bach

Starring: Nigel Bach, Steve Reynolds, etc.

Movie score: 6/10

Bad Ben: Benign Image

"…employs several creative special effects..."

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