Jack (Karl Holt – who also writes and directs), a midlevel functionary in a toy firm, has all sorts of problems with his job (cartoonishly horrid boss and co-workers), home (rambling old house he’s about to lose to loan sharks), private life (what there is of it) and life in general … when his Mum (Catriona McDonald) dies, he’s got even more cause to be glum, until he finds Benny, his childhood teddy bear (the bug-eyed, floppy-eared thing looks nothing like a bear), which is animate and acts out on all his worst impulses, eventually turning his misery into a nightmare comedy.
An essay in the plaything-of-evil sub-genre, this has a British sense of sit-com gloom with some gleeful detours into that brand of horror muppetry in which small critters have into big people (and one another) that remains the specialty of any production company Charles Band owns. Holt maybe overeggs the set-up, making Jack hard to warm up to as all sorts of bad things happen to him, but the anarchic, vicious, gleefully murderous, squeaking Benny enlivens the film no end. Dawn (Claire Cartwright – a real bright spot), the new co-worker who sides with Jack, admits that she had a spooky, killer doll as a child (cue: Gremlins reference ‘that’s why I hate birthdays’), setting up for an Annabelle lookalike to crawl out of a box and side with Benny in a finale where Jack, Dawn and utter tit Richard (George Collie) fix up products from their company to fight the evil toys in a Small Soldiers-on-a-way-smaller-budget type battle.
Couched in a British comedy tradition of stuttering bosses and matily useless policemen, set in the sort of rambling old house familiar from any given episode of Hammer House of Horror, and with above-and-beyond-the-call-of-duty special effects, this is a scrappy, likable (if shaky) effort.
Loved BENNY LOVES YOU. Best funking film this year.