A Little Can Con That (Almost) Could
Cult Canuck filmmaker Bruce McDonald made an unexpected late career shift into horror filmmaking eight years ago with Pontypool and it worked out so well that many hoped it wouldn’t be long before he got back into that spooktacular saddle. Thankfully the wait is over with the release of Hellions, a goofy and surreal little horror lark that’s far from a new genre classic, but is definitely a whole lotta fun.
Chloe Rose stars as one of those brooding teens that adults just don’t understand. She wears dark clothes and listens to indie rock, has a boyfriend with died black hair and is just trying to figure out who she is, mom! It’s Halloween though, which should theoretically be a great day for her type of dejected adolescent, but nope even that doesn’t work out! She finds out she’s pregnant in the morning and gets ditched by her boyfriend at night, leaving her to march around her home alone on Halloween night, all dressed up in a slutty angel costume with nowhere to go. Then a few creepy trick-or-treaters start banging on her door and won’t go away. In fact, the longer they stick around, the more reality starts to bend and contort into a nightmare.
Hellions starts out as a pretty straightforward Halloween fright flick, the kind that would make kids go giddy on the night of the big holiday. McDonald slowly builds up a sense of dread, punctuated only by stabs at twisted comedy. Then once the big ol’ genre romp is set into motion, things start off with the standard jump scares until McDonald starts messing with the color palate and distorting reality along with it. Dreams blend into dreams and characters transform into monsters. It’s a nutty, wild, and most importantly fun ride. And not a bad lil’ nightmarish take on the fear of parenthood either.
Unfortunately the simplicity that is the movie’s greatest strength is also its greatest a weakness. Simply put, there’s not really enough content here to sustain a feature length running time and even at a trim 82 minutes, this thing feels needlessly padded out. Scenes like one where Robert Patrick shows up to spout out exposition and over explain the film’s mysteries are a waste of screentime that drag the movie to a halt. Hellions would have likely worked best as a short or as part of an anthology film. But, that’s not what we got and thankfully the stretched out version is at least worth watching, if only for McDonald’s effectively creepy show-off directing.
Hellions debuts on Blu-ray courtesy of the good folks at Shout Factory, who have lately put special effort in releasing new Canadian horror flicks on Blu-ray (including the vicious Back Country and Aston-6’s giallo comedy masterpiece The Editor). Hellions is their latest release and the slimest, but it’s also the weakest movie of the three so that’s a-ok. The good news is that the film looks fantastic in HD. Bruce McDonald really let his inner Italian horror director flourish with some deeply bizarre imagery layered with dirty details and bathed in surreal colors. It looks spectacular on the disc and the equally surreal n’ trippy sound design is ported over perfectly as well. This is likely better than the indie HD horror flick looked in its brief theatrical release, which is lucky since there are absolutely no special features on the disc (not even a trailer). Oh well, at least the movie looks and sounds great. Those are it’s best qualities anyways.
Does This Deserve A Spot On Your Dork Shelf?
While this HD transfer is a nice treat, the lack of tricks in the narrative and Blu-ray extras make this Can Con a Can Miss.