THE BELL KEEPER is a new horror movie that has a lot going for it, but also a few too many tonal shifts for me. At times, it feels like a classic slasher and it also has some dark humor. Both work really well. The more serious moments are what doesn’t work for me. Read our full The Bell Keeper movie review here!
THE BELL KEEPER is a horror movie with a classic supernatural story and a different kind of slasher. The core story worked well for me, but the storytelling wasn’t nearly as good as it could’ve been. Also, I loved that the cast was full of interesting faces. Not all of them worked as well as they could have, but this has more to do with the strange tonal shifts than anything else.
If just a good ten minutes had been cut – or changed in style and vibe to match the rest – then I would’ve enjoyed this horror movie much more. Having said that, I could also easily see a sequel that manages to remedy these minor issues. I’d be ready to give that one a chance.
Continue reading our The Bell Keeper movie review below. Find it in theaters and On Demand from October 13, 2023.
A classic horror setting
In The Bell Keeper, we follow a group of friends as they travel in an RV to make a documentary about haunted places. Actually, seeing this group of young people in an RV and having a paranormal story play out reminded me of the awesome segment in the new V/H/S/85 horror anthology. Be sure to also check out that one!
The first stop on their list is a haunted campsite with a mysterious bell. Legend has it that if you ring the bell at midnight, you die. A murderer will simply appear and kill you instantly. While this documentary is hoping to discover something, they clearly expect to debunk the myth.
However, this is a horror movie, so it all goes wrong. Especially due to the real myth being something else entirely.
I did truly enjoy how this began as a classic slasher with delicious nods to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Also, the moments of comedy and dark humor sprinkled throughout manage to get you relaxed. This is always great to line up a new jump scare, and I was fine with that. In fact, I love horror comedies so it is definitely my jam.
The more serious moments, on the other hand, made me lose focus and I found my mind wandering. This is never a good sign. Fortunately, it manages to get back on track and has a solid ending. Nothing brilliant, but one that should leave horror fans happy enough I suspect.
Always good to have familiar faces
In the title role as The Bell Keeper, we see former wrestler and MMA fighter Randy Couture (The Expendables franchise). I don’t really care for the fight scenes which seem like fan service for Randy Couture fans, but I recognize that there is an audience for this. Not everything can be to my liking, so I’m fine with others having their fun.
It just did nothing for the movie as a whole, which I do have an issue with. A shorter runtime wouldn’t have hurt.
As one of the stars of the movie, we see Kathleen Kenny. I just applauded her for Sorry, Charlie, and she is definitely a highlight of The Bell Keeper as well. That’s not to say others in the cast didn’t work as well. In fact, Reid Miller (Joe Bell) is another star of the film, and the scenes these two had together worked perfectly.
I also liked the actors that rounded out the core cast of friends; Mike Manning (The Call), Cathy Marks, Capri-Antoine Vaillancourt, and Alexis B. Santiago. Finally, I am always happy to see Bonnie Aarons who plays the title role in The Nun movies, and Chaz Bono (American Horror Story) as the town sheriff.
Watch The Bell Keeper in theaters or On Demand
Colton Tran is the director of The Bell Keeper, and having just watched his movie Sorry, Charlie on TUBI, I had to check this out. Of the two, I definitely found The Bell Keeper to be the weaker one. However, it also had moments of the same potential I saw in Sorry, Charlie.
It feels like Colton Tran is still finding his own style, and I hope he stays with the slasher/villain story and uses dark humor and a few campy touches. For the more serious moments, there’s a need to stay consistent with this. The shifts back and forth definitely did not work for me.
I do love that this horror movie is out in theaters and On Demand on the last Friday the 13th of 2023. If you can’t watch a classic horror slasher on this day, then when can you?! Well, during the rest of October and on Halloween, of course, which once again makes for a perfect release date.
The Bell Keeper is In Theaters and On Demand from Friday, October 13, 2023. Available on DVD on December 5, 2023.
Director: Colton Tran
Writers: Joe Davison, Luke Genton
Cast: Randy Couture, Kathleen Kenny, Reid Miller, Mike Manning, Bonnie Aarons, Chaz Bono
A group of friends travel to a haunted campsite with a mysterious bell. According to legend, if you ring the bell at midnight, a murderer will appear. This group’s plan to debunk the myth goes awry as they discover that the truth is stranger – and far more frightening – than fiction.