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Bingo Hell

By Michael Talbot-Haynes | October 13, 2021

NEW TO AMAZON PRIME! Gigi Saul Guerrero’s electrifying feature-length debut Bingo Hell blasts open with a double barrel of slime and lightning. The elderly yet still feisty Lupita (Adriana Barraza) witnesses her barrio of Oak Springs being overrun by what we used to refer to back in the day as yuppie scum. Buildings are being boarded up then reopened selling organic gluten-free locally sourced “insert product here.” Neighbors are selling their houses at inflated rates, and rents are starting to spike at the beauty parlor ran by Yolanda (Bertila Damas).

Even the center where everyone plays the bingo is shuttered, as no one has seen the owner for days. Lupita commiserates with fellow seniors Clarence (Grover Coulson), who runs the auto shop, and her buddy Delores (L. Scott Caldwell). Delores tells Lupita not to worry about the center, as there are bigger issues. For Delores, her hands are full raising her teenage grandson Caleb (Joshua Caleb Johnson) for her unreliable daughter-in-law Raquel (Kelly Murtagh). Caleb is starting to make bad choices, though a friend of his dead dad, Eric (Jonathan Medina), is trying to give him some guidance while struggling to stay clean himself.

“…the winners [are] disappearing the day after they collect.”

Suddenly the barrio is plastered with fliers for the new bingo hall, ran by the sinister Mr. Big (Richard Brake). The fancy new building has colossal cash prizes like no one has seen before, with the winners disappearing the day after they collect. Then Lupita finds Mario’s body lying in a pool of slime-covered wads of cash with bingo balls stuffed in his mouth.

Right away, Bingo Hell shows its respect for the classics with a direct reference to the title sequence of Motel Hell. In that movie, a neon sign spelling out Motel Hello has the “o” short out. Here we have a replica neon sign saying Bingo Hall where the “a” flickers out into an “e.” After that, many of the aesthetic choices of lighting and production design follow the sophisticated madness of the Italian spaghetti nightmare traditions. The candy-coated colors in the hall blast out with Day-Glo insanity, like Dario Argento’s Inferno watched through a kaleidoscope.

Bingo Hell (2021)

Directed: Gigi Saul Guerrero

Written: Gigi Saul Guerrero, Shane McKenzie, Perry Blackshear

Starring: Adriana Barraza, L. Scott Caldwell, Richard Brake, Bertila Damas, Grover Coulson, Joshua Caleb Johnson, etc.

Movie score: 9/10

Bingo Hell Image

"…a filmmaking force for years to come..."

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