Hellions: Unsettling, Maybe Creepy, But Never Particularly Scary
The latest film from Canadian director, Bruce McDonald, is somewhat of a mixed bag. On one hand, the story – a home-invasion tale about a group of evil trick-or-treaters who seeking blood instead of candy – is predictable in its approach. On the other hand, there is a certain simplicity to how the story develops and a rawness to how it‘s executed which, in the end, doesn’t make Hellion a complete waste of time.
Taking place on Halloween night, the film is centred on seventeen-year-old Dora (Rose) who, after spending a lazy afternoon smoking pot with her boyfriend, Jace (Bilyk) receives news from her doctor (Sutherland) that she’s four weeks pregnant. Stunned by the news, she decides to stay home for Halloween while her mother, Kate (Wilson) and her younger brother, Remi (DaCunha) head out for a trick-or-treating session.
The doors to hell soon open when a couple of especially creepy trick-or-treaters, dressed in freaky costumes and equipped with taunting voices, show up at her door and continue to torment Dora. It soon becomes clear that they are out for the expectant mother herself and her unborn child.
It’s never quite clear whether if what’s happening to Dora is real or just a very bad dream with McDonald working hard to blur the lines between reality and a waking nightmare that Dora soon finds herself living in. Using an infrared lens throughout most of the picture to create a sort of hellish atmosphere for Dora and her ‘demons’, the effect may be perceived as cheap and perhaps even outdated. However, it works and along with the inclusion of the heavy-metal soundtrack as well as the decorative trappings found all around the small town which takes Halloween perhaps a bit too seriously, the payoff is adequate.
Having said that, the story itself could have done with a bit more development, especially in its conclusion, while the acting is flat. But more agonising and psychologically torturous than it is scary, Hellions is effective for the most part and it definitely has a certain retro quality that hasn’t been used for quite some time now which will most likely appeal to the fans of the genre.