Jack needs to grow up in order to improve his life. Part of growing up is getting rid of your old toys. When Jack tries to throw out his childhood stuffed animal, Benny, it comes back with murderous intentions.
Benny Loves You is the feature-film debut of writer and director Karl Holt, and he definitely leaves an impression with this film. The film follows self-proclaimed “loser,” Jack. When we first meet him, he’s an adult man still living with his parents, no intentions of moving out on his own, and generally stuck in the past. A series of unfortunate events forces Jack to finally grow up, which means it’s time to get rid of all the childish things he has been hoarding in his bedroom. This includes his beloved stuffed bear, Benny. But Benny isn’t done playing. He comes back to life with a vengeance, wrecking havoc on the new life Jack is trying to build for himself. The ensuing chaos is hilarious, awkward, and splattered with gore.
The plot is a bit of a mixed bag with some great highs and some definite lows. The high points are basically every scene with Benny. He is so adorable and sweet that even when he is murdering people left and right, it’s impossible not to love him and laugh at the crazy antics he gets up to. The plot of Benny Loves You also has a great message about growing up and finding your way in the world, especially for people who leave the nest later in life.
There are aspects of the plot that don’t work quite as well. There are certain jokes made that don’t land because they are offensive, such as a joke about “cross dressers.” There are also a couple of strange plot holes. For one, Jack’s nemesis at work has an obsession with Prince and even talks about a Prince concert he goes to during the film. There is nothing to indicate this film takes place in the past, yet Prince passed away in 2016, which makes this a bit confusing. It is almost implied that Benny coming to life after being discarded is something that happens with virtually all toys. If that was the case, it doesn’t make sense that no one would know about it or be prepared for when that happens with their own childhood toy.
In keeping with the tone of the film, the performances of Benny Loves You definitely bring the laughs. Karl Holt himself stars as Jack in his first role as an actor. Holt is great at delivering a goofy, humorous performance as a man child stuck in the past. Yet he really shines when Jack is forced to assess his life and make changes to become a proper adult. Claire Cartwright (Souljacker) plays Jack’s coworker and love interest, Dawn. Dawn conveys a balance most adults have between being responsible and self sufficient while also pursuing the things you love. Cartwright plays the character very well, making the audience fall in love with her along with Jack. Then there is George Collie making his debut as Jack’s workplace nemesis, Richard. Collie makes Richard the kind of character viewers love to hate. He’s pompous, rude, and downright idiotic at times. All three actors are great on their own, but it’s their interactions with each other that make the performances so fun.
It is clear that a lot of time and effort went into the effects in Benny Loves You. Also unsurprising is that the most well done effects are that of Benny and the other toys shown throughout the film. While it’s a bit confusing when Benny is called a stuffed bear, considering how long his ears are, he is downright adorable. Even when going on killing sprees and splattering blood everywhere, the studded animal is just so darn cute. In some of the more action-packed scenes, CGI is used for Benny. While it is a noticeable difference, the CGI is still fairly well done, especially for a low-budget film. This is true for most of the other toys featured as well. Because so much of the budget likely went to Benny, since he’s the real star, the practical effects for the human gore took a back seat. While a lot of the blood, guts, and gore comes across as inelegant compared to the toys, it is still in-keeping with the comedic, B-movie feel of the film.
Benny Loves You is a fun concept with an adorable villain, but the plot isn’t quite as strong as Benny’s penchant for murder. You can tell Holt poured his heart into this project; writing, directing, and starring in the film. While his villain is a great character horror fans are sure to love, the plot simply has too many plot holes and some jokes that are in poor taste. The performances are hilarious and the effects, especially that of the toys, are very well done. While I wanted to like Benny Loves You more than I did, I’m definitely looking forward to what Holt does next and I would love to see a sequel with Benny.
OVERALL RATING: 5/10