After hearing so much about Hellions, the latest film from director Bruce McDonald (Pontypool), I found myself totally stoked to sit down and experience what I hoped would be a really good movie. But what I watched was neither very good or very bad, it sat uncomfortably in cinematic purgatory, where polarizing flicks retire to when they don’t make much impact – good or bad.
Allow me to explain…
On Halloween afternoon, Seventeen old Dora (Chloe Rose) has just discovered that she’s pregnant. Unfortunately her mom Kate (Rachel Wilson), and younger brother Remi (Peter DaCuhna) are out trick or treating, and her boyfriend Jace (Luke Bilyk) is off getting ready for a party they’re both supposed to attend. So Dora finds herself alone on this Halloween afternoon, contemplating a life as the mother of a baby. Nevertheless, she does answer her front door to greet costumed children with candy every time they knock (after all, it is Halloween). But when a trio of silent, sack carrying kids come calling – Dora’s life is turned into a hellish battle for both her life and the life of her unborn child. This is a decent enough setup for what should be a pretty exciting little horror movie, but Hellions doesn’t take its plot down “Home Invasion” road. In fact, I’m still not sure what its intentions are.
Hellions purports itself to be a type of “Final Girl” film, and for awhile it succeeds as Dora finds herself trapped in her home, trying to figure out why she’s been chosen as the victim of the terrible trio. But not long after it establishes its set up, it gets a little trippy as the world outside turns a sickening shade of Pepto Bismol pink. Now as to whether this odd hue has some metaphorical value I couldn’t say. But I can say that I despised it almost instantly, and the film’s nagging insistence in not explaining it is a big hindrance to its effectiveness. I just didn’t see any purpose for everything turning pink. As Hellions continues, it begins to take on a dreamlike atmosphere that’s just as confusing as the odd choice of color. There are points in the film that feel like they’re moving in slow motion, but really aren’t. Once again, I ask why was any of this necessary? I went into this film hoping for some kick ass action, not something that looked and felt like a film students hackneyed attempt to make a statement, but succeeding in only making something pretentious.
There isn’t much logic to the goings on in Hellions, and films sans logic are usually boring. The attempts to liven things aren’t enough in the long run to make the film any less dull. As our protagonist Dora, Chloe Rose does a decent enough job of looking scared and confused, but I wonder if that’s more of the script’s fault. Robert Patrick ably plays Sheriff Gorman, who tries to help Dora last through her night of hell in one piece, but his character feels minimal to the plot, despite being the only other major character in the film. Cinematographer Norayr Kasper does a good job in keeping the dreamlike state of everything odd & off putting in a visual sense, but the pink hue the film takes on still bothered me.
At one point, I decided that poor Dora might’ve been imagining everything. Due to her heightened state of uncertainty (thanks to the fetus growing inside of her), this kinda made sense to me – for a few minutes anyway. Maybe that’s what director McDonald wanted his audience to experience – a world where everything that’s happening is happening in Dora’s head. Ultimately I decided that this was too cheap of a way to validate screenwriter Pascal Trottier’s decidedly different take on the home invasion sub genre. So admittedly, I really don’t know what Hellions is shooting for, it isn’t scary, it is a bit on the dull side, and at some points it becomes near incoherent. But if you’ve seen McDonald’s Pontypool, then you’d know the man doesn’t direct scripts with linear structures. He digs being odd & obtuse in his work, and there’s definitely an audience for that sort of film. I just don’t happen to be a part of that crowd.
If you’re looking for a film that posits far more questions than a horror film should (it never really gives an answer as to exactly what the hellish trio are, or why they want Dora’s baby so badly), then Hellions is right up your alley. Personally, I enjoy films that don’t mix up odd metaphorical questions to go along with it’s horror. At only 81 minutes long, you would thing that it goes by quickly. Think again. Hellions makes 81 minutes feel like 360, and that just might be the most horrifying aspect of it.
Hellions (1 / 5)