Hellions Bruce McDonald
Published Sep 22, 2015Fans of Canadian director Bruce McDonald's subversive zombie flick Pontypool will either be gravely dissatisfied or pleasantly surprised by his first horror foray in seven years, Hellions.
A more straightforward affair than his previous creepy success, Hellions concerns itself primarily with Dora Vogel (Chloe Rose) an average teenager living in an unremarkable Canadian town (save for it being the Pumpkin Capital of the World) who discovers she's pregnant one Halloween. Rather than go outside and party with other seniors her age, she decides to stay inside and take care of the house in case any trick-or-treaters visit.
That's when things ramp up to Rosemary's Baby-esque levels of spellbinding horror, as deranged, childlike and possibly demonic minions (or, as the title suggests, hellions) begin showing up in droves and doing things like carrying the decapitated head of her boyfriend, killing those in their way and somehow affecting the acceleration of her pregnancy.
It's a bit of a head-trip, especially because the majority of the film is recorded in and around one scenic, countryside home and most of its visuals occupy pockets not normally found in the colour spectrum (an infrared camera was employed throughout the film's shoot, giving this film a truly distinct visual feel).
Outside of the pretty pictures, scriptwriter Pascal Trottier has created a picture high on symbolism — what with its images of honey, pumpkin patches, blood-stained white wedding dresses and angel wings used to stir up ideas related to fertility, virginity and femininity — but it's not always cohesive, and the message is often muddled.
That seems to be part of the point. Like all good horror films found, Hellions has a lot of things to say, but is sometimes held back by genre constraints. For the most part, the film is able to break free of them, especially when it comes to its lead — a total badass who takes out more baddies than anyone else in the film — but it's hard not to feel like given a bit more time and a bigger budget, Hellions could have been even better.
(Whizbang Films Distribution)