Saturday, January 31, 2015

Hellions (2015)

No Poster Art Currently Available
Director: Bruce McDonald
Notable Cast: Chloe Rose, Robert Patrick, Rossif Sutherland, Rachel Wilson, Luke Bilyk

Hellions opens up with Chloe Rose as her character Dora wandering down a hospital hallway dazed, slowly maneuvering about, a question of ‘what the hell just happened to me’ etched onto her young face. After the movie was finished, I also wandered down the theater hallway dazed, slowly maneuvering about, a question of ‘what the hell just happened to me’ etched on my face. In a way, it’s an almost brilliant way to bring things full circle in this Halloween gone insane horror flick. If anything, it’s damn near the only thing it accomplished. The rest however, might be one of those films I would classify as ‘clusterfuck.’

Dora (Rose) just had a major awkward bomb dropped on her. She’s pregnant. As a 17 year old living in a small Canadian town, this is going to be huge. To help deal with the stress of big decisions and telling her family and boyfriend, she decides she just needs to have some time to still be a kid – by heading out with her boyfriend on Halloween night. Unfortunately, there seems to be a few demonic little trick or treaters that want to make sure she stays home…and doesn’t leave alive.

She's looking forward to a time beyond this movie.
The concept is simple. In fact, during the first 20 minutes or so the thought occurred that perhaps this would have been a pretty fun and humorous/horror-ous Tales from the Crypt episode to enjoy. Yet, I knew from watching one of Bruce McDonald’s previous films Pontypool that this would most certainly become weird. Weird doesn’t even explain the flow of consciousness and utterly inept proceedings from there. For the rest of the film, only an hour mind you, Hellions becomes an exercise in unintentional humor and random usage of a variety of genre styles. In pieces, this might have worked. As a whole, it’s completely unusable.

There is a certain sense that McDonald wanted to create the same sensory overload of the old school Italian giallo, but retain the Halloween inspired scares of a home invasion flick like Them. Trying to birth the two together proves to be an endeavor that Hellions neither has the budget for, nor the artistic sense to accomplish. What we end up with is a horror movie with so little scares or tension that it doesn’t work as that home invasion thriller and so little ability to weave symbolism or cohesive narrative into the fever dream portion that a majority of the audience was laughing their way through it. The poor dialogue delivery, the Goblin-esque synth score that never feels quite fitting, nonsensical plot progressions to introduce more Hellions, less believability that our heroine will ever find sanity let alone a chance of survival, and an ending that actually makes even less sense for all of the previous proceedings…simply undermines anything good that could have come out of this film.

"I've seen Return to Oz. I know you!"
If there is anything that I can say about Hellions, it’s that I had quite a great laugh. The poor gentlemen next to me in my Sundance screening tried so desperately to understand the movie throughout that I almost felt pity for him. By half way through, I gave up even trying to make sense of it or look for the deeper meaning in exploding mine field pumpkin patches and doctors who think stapling neck wounds with a staple gun is a good idea. I just accepted it as the unintentional comedy that it became. I still left the showing, wondering just how could a film with so much potential blatantly miss the mark.  Even then I couldn’t help but giggle at the ridiculousness of what I had been shown. I enjoyed myself. Even if it was for all the wrong reasons. Hellions is a botched film. Hopefully that means I have already gotten ‘worst horror film of the year’ out of the way in January.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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