TIFF 2015: Hellions Review


Cult Canuck director Bruce McDonald delighted horror lovers with his first stab at the genre a few years ago in Pontypool, which mixed his outsider filmmaking instincts with spook-out techniques rather well. Ever since that success, there’s been hope that he’d return to the genre and now he has with the Halloween horror lark Hellions. The flick is fairly fun and gives McDonald a chance to throw a whole bunch of filmmaking tricks at the screen to see what sticks. Unfortunately, the flick is pretty thin on everything other than style. 

Dora Vogel stars as one of those edgy teens, the type who emote and wear weird clothes because gawd, nobody gets them. Halloween should be a good time for them to get freaky at least and Vogel seems to live in a Halloween-obsessed small town, so perhaps this will be a great day! Well, she finds out she’s pregnant early, which sets a sour tone. Then after her mother and younger brother pop out for a local celebration, her boyfriend doesn’t pick her up for their Halloween party. So she’s stuck home alone feeling mopey. That is of course until a few creepy trick r’ treaters show up and refuse to go away. To make matters worse, they seem to shift reality with their presence and invite in all sorts of supernatural shinanegins. 

So, we have a movie that kicks off as a Halloween-themed home invasion tale with hints of impending parental dread. Then things get supernatural, McDonald starts messing around with color palate and the whole thing transforms into a surreal, almost European horror flick. On a purely visceral level, Hellions is a fun ride that’s quite well made and hinges on a strong central performance from Vogel. Unfortunately, even at a brief 82-minutes, things feel padded out and somehow the story feels both weighed down by exposition and irritatingly ambiguous to the point of incoherence (or as Moe Szyslak would say, “weird for the sake of weird.”). Still, when Hellions is on point, it’s a wild ride. Too bad that ride can’t last forever…or at least until the end credits.



SEP 18, 4pm @ Scotiabank 4

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Dork Shelf's TIFF 2015 Guide

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