A teenager must survive a Halloween night from Hell when malevolent trick-or-treaters come knocking at her door.
Visuals come before all else in Hellions, a stylish but lightweight effort that owes large debts of influence to films like Inside, The Strangers and Eden Lake, but never threatens to come within shouting distance of matching any of the three in terms of quality.
Dora (Chloe Rose) is a pretty standard issue Cinematic Angsty Teenager who, after an admittedly hilarious encounter with the world’s most unprofessional doctor, finds out she is pregnant. As she heads home on Halloween and copes with the news, her mother and brother head out trick or treating for the night and she waits at home for the arrival of her boyfriend Jace. After this, things take a sinister turn as a troupe of masked children lay siege to her home, seemingly hell-bent on seizing her unborn baby as her pregnancy speeds along at a hugely accelerated rate.
As Dora first barricades herself in her home, Hellions flexes some visual muscle, the colour scales contorting beautifully to give proceedings an impressively nightmarish aesthetic. The more we see of her hunters, the more chilling they become, their costumes and mannerisms laced with an effective creepiness (not to mention a moment that will keep you double-checking your trick or treat bags for life) that should, by all accounts, ratchet up the tension and send the film into top gear for the closing third.
The problem is, simply, that it doesn’t. For all its carefully maintained atmospherics and unsettling imagery, Hellions still feels a little short on identity and a little too over-reverent to its influences. Throw in a farcical venture off the dramatic deep end in the closing stages and unfortunate mishaps of both CGI and editing (pumpkin minefields and inconsistent handprints both feel a little amateurish in such a sleek environment) and what you’re left with is a film with broad (and arguably confused) ambitions whose reach sadly exceeds its grasp. A misfire, albeit a valiant one.
Films set at Halloween are always atmospheric and seem that much scarier sometimes just simply because they are set at that spooky time of year that us horror fans love. This film was no exception. Director Bruce McDonald’s (Pontypool) spooky tale Hellions takes all the classic Halloween iconography – pumpkins, Trick R’ Treat costumes and young adults on their own in the house late at night – and turns it on its head in this atmospheric story.
All taking place on the fateful oh Hallows Eve night, the story follows teenager Dora Vogel (Chloe Rose) who has just found out she’s pregnant. Struggling to come to terms with the news and ready to put it behind her for one night she decides to dress up in angel attire and wait for her boyfriend to pick her up for a party. However what knocks at her door isn’t her boyfriend but instead a group of pumpkin-headed trick r’ treaters who have evil intentions for her unborn child. It’s up to Dora to survive their torments and fight them off until dawn.
This is quite chilling at times and ethereal with its Halloween theme and the symbolism of the white angel costume contrasted against the evil nature of the creatures at the centre of it all. Some of the effects towards the end are a little experimental and perhaps not as effective as the first half but at least it tries to be a little different. The film is fascinating to endure and unlike the previous feature it will likely stay with you long after it finishes and certainly prove good talking material.
Chloe Rose gives a very impressive performance as heroine Dora and in some ways is ironically reminiscent of a young Jamie Lee Curtis. Rose delivers shades of strength and fire in the role but also retains that great sense of innocence and youth. It’s also great to see yet another veteran onscreen here (this year’s festival is full of them!) in the form of Robert Patrick as police officer Corman. This definitely echoes many of the classics and serves as a reminder of why as horror fans we love features set at this eerie time of year. It’s by no means perfect but for a fan of the genre Hellions is definitely worth a watch.
In the build up to Halloween, 17 year old Dora Vogel (Chloe Rose) finds out she is pregnant and is told she still has time to decide what to do. Instead of heading out to a Halloween party Dora stays at home to contemplate her future and make the most important decision of her young life. However her night is about to take a turn for the worse when she starts getting terrorized by strange children in Halloween costumes.
Being a big fan of the film Pontypool, I was looking forward to this one from its director Bruce McDonald and for the first 30 minutes he had created a solid, beautifully shot film. However after that it started to go downhill and sadly never managed to recover.
The premise seems to centre around her potential decision to have an abortion but the film fails to really bring its ideas to the fore and whilst I like a film that doesn’t spoon feed you, Hellions seems to forget what its point itself. Visually it stays on point and the performances are good (although Robert Patrick’s sheriff feels a little pointless at times) but narratively the film unravels slowly as it seems more concerned with the spectacle than the story.
It’s not a terrible film but for me it was certainly far from a good one and was a huge disappointment. Not just because it didn’t live up to expectations but also because it had a lot of potential but the screenplay just match up to the visual stylings applied by director MaDonald and cinematographer Norayr Kasper. It simply just becomes a little too weird and I totally disengaged with it.
Rose makes for a good lead and holds the screen well but it isn’t enough to save Hellions from the issues which drag it down. If you’re a fan of Pontypool I’d recommend watching that one again rather than investing in this.
Hellions is out On DVD on the 22nd October 2015