BAD BEN 7: THE HAUNTED HIGHWAY (2020)
Directed and Written by Nigel Bach.
Starring Nigel Bach, Holly Barnes, Gary Bisignani, Dalton Green, Courtney Kehr, Lionel Nazario, Josh Robert Thompson
Tom Riley (writer/director Nigel Bach) has a new job as a ride share driver and wouldn’t you know it, his first night on the job is Halloween night. Before the night is over, Tom will run into all sorts of supernatural beings and will eventually end up at a very familiar house on Steelmanville Road.
This seventh installment in the Bad Ben series is a mixed bag. I like it that Bach has decided to try something new and shifted the horrors from the home to a car, all decked out with surveillance equipment and showing each ride from all angles. Tom even gets high tech and incorporates a drone camera in this one, though, as usual, it’s done in as low fi a way as possible—which has been the mantra of this series from day one. The fact that Riley is faced with all sorts of evil on the road is enough of a shake up to keep things interesting. Tom also faces things other than just ghosts and demons like werewolves, vampires, and other weirdos. All of this broadens the universe Bach has whittled together for very little money.
I also can’t deny the absolutely lovable presence of Mr. Bach himself. He’s less monotone and seems to be getting much more confident in front of the camera. He’s no Brando, but he does a good job of carrying the movie on his own reactions to the craziness alone. Bach definitely has an everyman quality that is hard to deny.
Still, this film is extremely repetitious and requires Riley to make the same mistakes over and over again in order for the film to go on. Some scenes go on way too long. Others test all common sense as Riley discovers a pair of shoes making their way up the stairs every time he opens the door to the basement yet continues to open and close the door knowing the shoes will be closer to the top of the stairs every time. Tom is repeatedly directed to go to the house on Steelmanville Road and doesn’t really question it, accepting numerous rides to go there despite the fact that he’s had such a horrible history with the house. This makes Riley more of a joke or a bumbling buffoon than anything else.
I like the way the film continues to reference its own lore. There’s a callback to THE MANDELA EFFECT, as well as THE CRESCENT MOON CLOWN, and other films in this series. It’s impressive not only that Riley has made so many of these films, but has managed to keep the story straight from day one. Not many films can say that. I’m also impressed that the Steelmanville Road house is actually Riley’s real home and he incorporates it into every movie. Again, additional rudimentary CG effects are added which only adds to the cheesey fun.
It’s impossible to hate this series as it feels like a celebration of the horror genre from a guy who is willing to put his house and bumbling persona on display in every film. I didn’t laugh or jump as much with THE HAUNTED HIGHWAY as I did in previous entries, but the change in locale was appreciated and I find myself looking forward to every new entry as it always promises something worth watching. Next week, we catch up to 2021 with BAD BEN 8: PANDEMIC. Can’t wait.
BAD BEN Review!!
BAD BEN 2: STEELMANVILLE ROAD Review!!
BAD BEN 3: BADDER BEN Review!!
BAD BEN 4: THE MANDELA EFFECT Review!!
BAD BEN 5: THE CRESCENT MOON CLOWN Review!!
BAD BEN 6: THE WAY IN Review!!
Check out the trailer here!!