xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
"Hellbenders 3D" is one of those films that expends so much time and effort in trying to become the next big cult sensation that it never gets around to simply being a good movie. This is a bit of a shame because it has a nifty premise, a lot of energy and a cast that is clearly committed to the cause. All are pretty much squandered on a final product that is so haphazard and self-consciously outrageous that it makes "Machete Kills" seem focused and nuanced by comparison.
The film focuses on the Augustine Interfaith Order of Hellbound Saints, a multi-denominational group of renegade priests led by the beyond-grizzled Angus (Clancy Brown) who willfully indulge in any and all forms of debauchery in order to prepare themselves for their duties of hunting down and exorcising demons. The idea is that if they encounter one that is too powerful to be defeated by conventional means, they will coax the demon to possess their "damnation-ready" bodies and then commit suicide as a way of consigning themselves to Hell and taking the evil spirits back to from whence they came. Remember the famous quote from "Mean Streets" when Harvey Keitel muses "You don't f--- with the infinite"? The infinite is about the only thing that this group doesn't f--- with here, though I suppose there is always the "Unrated" Blu-ray to look forward to.
The trouble begins when a possessed rabbi announces a dire prediction of the world going up in flames and grows exponentially when one of the Hellbound Saints, adorable Unitarian Elizabeth (Robyn Rikoon), is taken over by a demon but fails to make the final cut with the razor blade hanging around her neck. This is especially bad because she is now inhabited by Surtr, an all-powerful demon known as "The God Killer" who now roams the streets in her body and is transforming hundreds of ordinary people into slavering zombies as a prelude to the ultimate destruction of everything. Angus and the other Saints (Clifton Collins Jr., Dan Fogler, Andre Royo and Macon Blair) are all that stand in Surtr's way, but not only do they have to figure out a way of defeating it, they also have to contend with a stick-in-the-mud representative of the archdiocese (Stephen Gevedon) who considers the group an embarrassment to the church and wants to shut them down at the worst possible time.
As I said, the idea of cheerfully depraved priests wallowing in endless sin in the hopes of providing salvation for all is a clever one that, handled properly, could have been spun out into something both outrageously amusing and occasionally thought-provoking. The problem is that after establishing such a potentially promising premise, writer-director J.T. Petty (adapting his own graphic novel) doesn't seem to have much of an idea of what to do with it other than to let the story devolve into a bizarre mash-up of "Ghostbusters" and "Prince of Darkness" featuring priests who talk like Dennis Hopper in "Blue Velvet" but who, it should be noted, never actually get around to doing anything particularly shocking, at least not that we are privileged to see.