The new slasher-demon-slayer film, The Bell Keeper, takes too many notes from Evil Dead. We have Randy Couture as the new Thor—I’m sorry, an axe-wielding killer—who has himself become an urban legend near a lake called Bell Lake. The film plays everything by the book, including every trope possible and trying to make its own self-aware jokes on the subject. Not only does it come across as corny, but sometimes it all looks like it’s done in poor taste. Despite all this, The Bell Keeper isn’t half bad and somehow manages to be entertaining. Some of the dialogue really makes you want to turn off the film, but if you do decide to stick around, it can be a funny distraction. Let’s get into the film.
Plot Synopsis: What Happens In The Film?
A man slays a couple with an axe in the first 5 minutes of The Bell Keeper. A group of college kids decides to make a documentary on some spooky spots in the country, and Bell Lake is their starting point. Matthew is the cameraman, and he has brought his friends to the campervan his younger brother Liam lives in for their little trip. Liam isn’t so keen on this trip, but he won’t let anyone else drive the camper, becoming the designated driver of the crew. Holly is the director and Matthew’s girlfriend. Then there’s another couple. Megan, the host, and her boyfriend, Gabriel. In this town, the sheriff is unbothered because he thinks kids just like to play pranks on him about Hank. But on the other hand, Liam has an eerie feeling about the whole thing. The guy has just dropped out of college and has decided to grow cannabis for a living. Matthew and Liam aren’t close at all, and Liam seems like a bit of a downer. They meet Brittany on their way to the lake, who also happens to be looking for her missing brother. While the boys make silly jokes after taking too much weed, the girls fight over being independent and feminine (lame). At the gas station, they get a warning not to ring the bell, but what do you know? Younglings love to be rebellious.
Apparently, the story begins with a farmer named Hank, who sacrificed three virgins in 1876 by burning them on a pyre to “open the gates of hell.” The villagers found the bodies of the girls, but Hank was gone forever. They deemed the site unholy because of the bell that Hank rang at midnight, which can never be removed. If one dares to ring the bell at midnight, they’ll be cursed, too, and Hank will come after them. Around the bell, there happens to be a campsite, and the crew settles down. When the crew decides to ring the bell, Liam and Brittany both have their headphones on and don’t hear a sound. Holly rings the bell three times, but nothing significant happens. They decide to go back to the campsite and figure out how to make their footage look less anticlimactic and more “found footage.” It’s Holly who gets attacked by Hank first, and when he tries to hit her with the axe, her eyes change, and she manages to run away. Liam and Matthew end up finding her in the restrooms with her ears bleeding. The boys hide in the restroom, but Matthew’s ears begin to bleed, too. Liam sees his brother get killed and rushes to find Brittany.
Megan and Gabriel get ear bleeds, too, and Hank gets Megan next rather easily. In the meantime, Liam tells Brittany everything he’s seen, and they head to the campervan. Gabriel finds them there, and he definitely doesn’t look human anymore. They run away to a kitchen-looking room, and Hank shows up there. Liam pretends to be brave and stands up to the guy who killed his brother. Hank tells him it wasn’t his brother but a demon. Hank looks at their faces properly and then says they’re not demons. The reason, of course, is that they didn’t hear the bell ring. The two of them wait in the freezer while Hank finds the other two. They’re too restless, though, and rush back to the campervan to make a call to the police, but Liam is unable to start the campervan. At the same time, Holly shows up, and before they know it, both Gabriel and Holly are in the campervan with them. They go back to the freezer and let Hank do the dirty work. Brittany does manage to call the disbelieving sheriff, though to no avail, because he thinks it’s another prank.
What is the legend, really?
Hank takes the two of them to his cabin and tells them the real story. His daughter Elsey was a curious young girl, and there was a man named Jackson in 1876 who was trying to open the gates of hell by sacrificing three virgins. He picked three really young girls, with Elsey being one of them. Hank was unable to save his daughter, but Jackson’s goal was to become immortal. When Hank tried to slay him with his axe, his immortality was transferred to him, and he swore to kill all the demons in the world for Elsey. Now, his faith is bound to the bell, so he can’t destroy it himself, but he believes virgin blood can destroy it. They establish that Liam is one, and in the case of Brittany, it’s a loophole because she’s never been with a man. Now, they’re only two, but Hank thinks it’s the best they can do right now. Brittany finds her brother’s ID card with Hank, meaning that he’s been killed too. She’s absolutely devastated, but Hank calms her down for the task at hand. According to Hank, whoever rings the bell becomes possessed by a demon and immediately dies. Hence, the weird eyes and strength.
Again, Hank fights Holly and Gabriel while the two younglings try to destroy the bell, but even a chainsaw is of no help. Brittany manages to kill Holly when Hank is trying to get Gabriel, surprising everybody. The sheriff finally shows up and shoots at Jackson, who shows up behind Liam. He finally believes the stories, and with Liam’s help, he shoots Gabriel’s head off.
The Bell Keeper is relieved of his duty when Liam, Brittany, and the sheriff break the bell together. Jackson shows up, and Hank is reassured by Elsey that he can win for real this time. He kills Jackson, boosted by his daughter’s words, and is finally free from his immortality. Liam and Brittany decide they want to help more people together now that they’ve lost the only other person in their families. The sheriff decides to join them, too, because that was the first time he used his gun, and he feels like he’s achieved something big with these two.
During The Bell Keeper‘s ending, Hank finally retires, telling the rest that he will remain there, and they might meet again if it’s meant to be. The three of them head off as a team, establishing their new roles in the group, and Hank waves them goodbye. Hank feels like he’s done his best for his daughter and now he can finally live on like a normal human being.
Why Did The Trio Choose To Team Up?
Liam has always felt like an outsider. His introverted personality makes him seem anti-social and his choices are different from others, so he feels the need to establish himself as someone special. On the other hand, Brittany lost her mother just a year ago and she’s been struggling to deal with that. Although she wasn’t close to her brother, his loss would take an extra toll on her, similar to Liam who just lost his not-so-close brother too (older brothers amirite?). Together they can help each other cope with the loss and deal with their grief. The sheriff’s story is a similar one, he was fooling himself making it seem like he was in a lame town, when he let so many people go missing and get killed by not believing in the story. It’s probably his guilt and pride that makes him consider joining the two demon slayers to help people and redeem himself. It’s a group of underdogs against hell itself (as always).
The Bell Keeper feels like a try-hard in many parts. It uses every trope under the sun, and even when it tries to be funny, it comes across as gross. There are a couple of jokes that worked a little, though. Liam and Brittany are the stars of the film, for sure, and it’s a cute dynamic they share after Brittany tells him that she can’t be interested in him romantically. In terms of scares, it’s pretty mediocre, and the practical effects fall short. Overall, I’d say this movie is quite a skip. But, I will say, watching it with the closed captions on and with a group of friends could be fun if you’re really very bored.