EIFF 2015 – Hellions
Bruce McDonald’s Hellions focuses on the teenage Dora (Chloe Rose) who has to survive the Halloween night from hell once demonic forces descend on her house.
As horror movies go this one is fairly by the numbers with absolutely nothing interesting or new being attempted within the confines of the story. Early in the film Dora finds out that she’s pregnant at the age of 17 so it’s fitting that the attack helps to represent her feelings of anxiety over having a child.
Chloe Rose is the best thing about this film as she brings a lot of personality to this fairly thinly written character. The first appearance of her is hanging around a pumpkin field with her boyfriend smoking underage and talking about how taboo their relationship is. It’s pretty much the same rebellious teen nonsense we’ve all seen countless times before but Rose’ performance manages to inject lots of humanity into Dora as the story goes on. She has to shoulder the majority of the film on her own and does a really capable job of it.
We also get a memorable turn from Robert Patrick as a badass sheriff who sadly doesn’t get as much screen time as I would like. When he does appear he’s great but unfortunately there’s just enough of him.
The details of what’s going on are kept to a minimum but it seems that finding out that she’s pregnant on Halloween summons some kind of demonic cult to lay claim to the child that appears to be some sort of hybrid between a human and a squid. I really wish I was joking here but there’s lots of imagery to support that.
Most of the film functions as a boring home invasion scenario as creepy demonic kids enter her house in an attempt to lay claim to her unborn creature. Everything is handled well enough here but it’s all so standard and predicatable. There are jump scares, strange noises, eerie childlike singing in the soundtrack and pretty much every other horror trick you can think of. Seriously this film could turn into a pretty passable drinking game due to how formulaic it is.
One thing I found really weird is that once the home invasion narrative kicks into high gear there’s a strange camera filter added in order to make the whole thing seem otherworldly. At least that’s what I think it’s supposed to do. There is no story reason given and the characters don’t react to the change in style other than it being called a “blood moon”. It makes the whole thing look incredibly artificial which really doesn’t help make this thing any more immersive.
Despite the shortcomings I found this to be pretty watchable. I’ve certainly seen worse horror movies and it does have a handful of really memorable moments. It doesn’t do anything that offends and manages to keep away from going over the top with gore so it definitely gets some points for that.
A watchable if forgettable horror outing that coasts by on a strong leading actress performance in the absence of any real scares.
This whole film feels somewhat by the numbers as it doesn’t really attempt to do anything interesting or new with the genre. It almost rattles off a checklist of horror tropes that have been known to scare audiences in the past and goes through them one by one.
Chloe Rose is great as Dora, managing to carry most of the film on her own. Dora is incredibly thinly written but Rose injects enough humanity and personality into her to keep her from becoming too bland. At the beginning it seems like standard rebellious teen nonsense but she manages to save her character from being defined by that.
There are one or two really well executed moments and a fun appearance from Robert Patrick as a badass sheriff but generally the whole thing is a little bland. I’m not sure what’s going on with the camera filter during the home invasion scenes but it seems to be a stylistic thing rather than something the characters notice.
As I said, this is certainly watchable and manages to not go over the top with violence or gore so I appreciated that but I feel that I won’t remember it within a couple of days.