I love independent cinema. There is something so awe-inspiring about people who do not have Hollywood connections or multi-million dollar budgets picking up a camera and deciding to run with an idea they have for a film. Despite a lack of production quality or funky CGI effects, I value the authenticity, the originality, and the fighting spirit of the film. Who cares if the star isn’t an A-list actor? Was I entertained? Was I compelled by the story? That’s what’s important to me. With that said, I want to turn your attention to the Bad Ben series by Nigel Bach.
On my quest to find independent horror films, I came across the trailer for Bad Ben and I was so delighted by what I saw that I showed it to numerous people before I even watched the film. You can see the trailer for yourself here. The film follows Tom Riley, a middle aged man who has acquired a house at a Sheriff’s sale that he plans to flip for a profit. However, things don’t go as planned and Tom is attacked by dark forces in the house.
As I mentioned before, I was floored by the trailer, especially the sequence where an invisible entity spells out ‘Not your home’ in ashes and Tom just erases the message and says, “Well I got news for you, it is my home.” That was enough to reel me in. And, shortly after finishing the trailer, I dove down the Bad Ben rabbit hole and started watching the first of the seven movies in the Bad Ben series.
The movies are ordered as follows:
- Bad Ben: The first film
- Steelmanville Road: The prequel to Bad Ben that explains the history of the house
- Badder Ben: Tom Riley is back, this time with a documentary crew
- Bad Ben: The Mandela Effect: Tom Riley experiences similar horrors in different parallel universes in the same house
- The Crescent Moon Clown: New owners of the house deal with a mysterious presence
- Bad Ben: The Way In: Tom Riley is hired by new owners to clear and cleanse the house of its entities.
- Bad Ben: The Haunted Highway: Tom Riley takes up a job as a driver for an Uber competitor on Halloween and ends up in paranormal shenanigans.
- Bad Ben: The Haunted Highway
- Bad Ben: Benign
There is also a behind-the-scenes film that covers the first three movies called The Making Of The Bad Ben Trilogy and the only one I have not seen, The Christmas Special.
After watching all the films and let me tell you, the entertainment value of these flicks cannot be quantified. My favorite film, Badder Ben, had me laughing so hard that I kept having to pause the movie to gather myself, but the other films also offer great moments such as:
- Tom Riley drop-kicking a doll with a knife
- Tom Riley running in his house in his underwear swearing
- A possessed doll driving an RC car
- Tom Riley talking to a severed human head
- Tom Riley taking up a cane as a defense weapon against demons
- Tom Riley getting dragged down the basement steps
You get the point. If these highlights don’t sell you on this series, it may not be for you.
Further, in the behind the scenes film, The Making Of The Bad Ben Trilogy, Nigel Bach reveals that he had a crew for the first Bad Ben, but they all dropped out at the last second. So, with the help of a couple friends and his iPhone, Nigel used his own property to make Bad Ben. He notes that a lot of the script in the first entry in the series is improvised, which makes sense as it feels natural, as if it is actually happening.
The Bad Ben franchise, in my opinion, has become more than an independent horror series. It has become an experience. The series’ Facebook fan page is a lively and active community where you can talk to other people about your favorite film(s) in the franchise.
With the increasingly calloused nature and elitism of Hollywood, the Bad Ben films offer a genuine sense of community and an experience that is worth trying.
You can find the Bad Ben series on Amazon prime and elsewhere. Full list here.
Updated June 4, 2022*