'Hellions': Sundance Review

Courtesy of Sundance International Film Festival
A go-nowhere genre film that sabotages some good design work

Sundance vet Bruce McDonald returns with a teen-pregnancy horror flick

Pint-sized boogeymen spoil Halloween in a big way in Hellions, a hard-sell horror flick about the unthinkability of teen pregnancy. Bruce McDonald's latest is a genre-freak-only affair that even at 81 minutes feels like a joke that takes much too long reaching its punch line; though horror fests may bite, commercial prospects are slim despite the fanboy-friendly presence of Robert Patrick as a grizzled small-town cop.

After starting the holiday relaxing with her boyfriend and a joint in a pumpkin patch, things are about to go very badly for Dora (Chloe Rose). First a routine visit to her doctor reveals that she's pregnant. Then, after her mom and brother have left the house for Trick-or-Treating, the gates of Hell open up. Or something.

The bad vibes start off promisingly, as a couple of kids with exceptionally creepy costumes come to the door for candy, then keep returning for reasons Dora doesn't understand. But rather than engage in slow-build horror, Pascal Trottier's screenplay flips the switch into Poultergeisty chaos: Everything turns pale pink, the house fills with savage winds, and voices from nowhere whisper menacing things. Sadly, the pink tint remains even after the winds cease — inspiring visual fatigue that overwhelms some strong costume design and visual FX work.

Cutaways to spinning clocks and the like inspire us to wonder how much of this is in Chloe's head. Those signals continue even after her phone calls for help lead to visits from her doctor and Patrick's character, who seems to have some experience with baby-obsessed Halloween gremlins. Unconvinced that any of this is actually happening, we might be excused for having a hard time caring about the violent action, but most viewers will at least stick around in hopes of an intelligible explanation in the end. They'll be disappointed.

 

Production companies: Whizbang Films, Storyteller Pictures

Cast: Chloe Rose, Robert Patrick, Rossif Sutherland, Rachel Wilson, Peter DaCunha,  Luke Bilyk

Director: Bruce McDonald

Screenwriter: Pascal Trottier

Producers: Frank Siracusa, Paul Lenart

Executive producers:

Director of photography: Norayr Kasper

Production designer: Andrew Berry

Costume designer: Sarah Millman

Editor: Duff Smith

Music: Todor Kobakov, Ian LeFeuvre

Casting director: Jon Comerford, Lisa Parasyn         

 

No rating, 81 minutes

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