It’s a bad day for paranormal investigator Tom Riley, staggering through the woods to his home where the locked door forces him to climb through the window in a most ungainly fashion only to find someone else’s belongings scattered within, though despite noises upstairs the house is at least apparently empty save for the cat which timidly greets him.
The spirits, however, are unsettled, furniture sliding across the floor, knives hurling themselves at him; a consultation of Ted Holmberg’s book How to Rid Your House of Evil suggests “making a happy house” by dancing and playing cheery music, but as the manifestations gather, a costumed child, a jester, a disembodied head floating through the house, Riley is dubious as to the efficacy of the guidance.
Ninth in the micro-budget found footage comedy horror sequence which launched in 2016, Bad Ben: Benign is once again written and directed by Nigel Bach who also stars as Tom Riley, stumbling around haphazardly as lights flicker on an off, his every move captured by the array of cameras set up around his house, the cuts functional as they track him rather than dynamic to pace a film which starts as a chore and never improves.
Punctuated by pantomime pratfalls, laughs and scares are marked by their absence, the simple practical effects more effective than the cheap digital superimpositions deployed for the more complex dissolves and dislocations attempted, among them Father Murphy (Steve Reynolds), decapitated when he tried to exorcise the house, productions values so amateur the film would have been better to avoid them altogether.
“The obvious question whoever watches this will be asking is ‘why does this guy record everything that goes on in his life?’” A better question would be why anyone would be watching in the first place, Riley an unwelcoming host and the worst ambassador for his own brand, whining and swearing rather than attempting to understand, explain or at minimum engage his viewers.
Told in real time over an hour and forty minutes, to say Bad Ben: Benign had a plot would be stretching the truth; things happen, but not anything of interest; a child cries in another room, the telephone rings, objects move, but like a mime asked to stretch a five-minute opening slot to the main act there is simply insufficient material, ambition and ingenuity to justify the time invested.
Bad Ben: Benign is available on Digital Download now