• Hellions



    Released by: Shout! Factory/IFC
    Released on: February 2nd, 2016.
    Director: Bruce McDonald
    Cast: Robert Patrick, Chloe Rose, Rossif Sutherland, Rachel Wilson
    Year: 2015
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    The Movie:

    When Bruce McDonald’s Hellions begins, seventeen year old Dora Vogel (Chloe Rose) and her boyfriend lay together near a tree. It’s a calm scene, young love is in full bloom. From there, Dora heads off to visit her doctor (Rossif Sutherland) where she finds out that she’s pregnant. She goes home, unsure what to do with her life. She’s supposed to go to a party and she puts on her costume as her mother (Rachel Wilson) and younger brother (Peter DaCunha) head out so that he can trick or treat. Her boyfriend was supposed to come and get her, but he never shows up.

    Alone in the house, Dora receives a visit from what at first appear to be some young trick or treaters. It doesn’t go well and when one puts a bloody hand print on the belly of her white dress, things quickly become more than a little strange. Those trick or treaters won’t leave well enough alone, and after a visit from her doctor and then a local sheriff (Robert Patrick) Dora soon realizes that they’re not going to give up, they want to take her baby from her.

    “This has happened before” she’s told by the sheriff.

    Working in some obvious but not less effective references to The Wizard Of Oz into the story (one trick or treater is a scarecrow, another covers his visage with a tin bucket and our heroine’s name isn’t so far removed from Dorothy), McDonald weaves fantasy and horror into a story that is frequently unnerving. Yes, there are a series of cheap jump scares worked into the movie, these play to expected genre clichés, but the movie leaves us with a lot to think about. Those looking for easy answers won’t find them here. It’s clear when Dora bleeds from between her legs that this is all very much an allegory for her dealing with an unwanted pregnancy but are the ‘Hellions’ the ghosts of unwanted children themselves or something altogether different? How much of what we see Dora put through is happening in the ‘real world’ and how much of it is in her head? Pascal Trottier’s script leaves much of this up to us to decide. There are clues here, but those clues do not seem to be definitive.

    And then there are the visuals. Large chunks of this film are tinted with a fairly heavy pink filter. This serves to create some interesting looking scenes as our heroine, dressed in an angel’s gown complete with feathered wings on her back and a bloody hand print that appears and then disappears, fights for her life against something that might not actually exist. Some will see the whole thing as a pro-life propaganda piece but it seems to this writer that the trick or treaters are actually Dora’s very understandable fears about her future manifesting rather than vengeful spirits looking to punish her for how she reacts to the news. But regardless of each viewers take on it, and there’s no doubt that with a movie like this those takes will vary, McDonald give us a good bit to chew on. This one will stick in your head for a bit once you see it. And if you opt not to chew on that food for thought, you can still enjoy this one as a trippy thrill ride of sorts, offering up some gory shocks and some screwy dark humor (the kind that McDonald does well).

    The acting is good. An aging Robert Patrick is quite decent as the sheriff and if Rachel Wilson looks a bit too young to be Dora’s mother, she plays the part well. Rossif Sutherland is likeable as the doctor and if the cast that play the trick or treaters don’t have much in the way of dialogue and perform more physically than anything else, they do it well (great costuming here definitely helps). Chloe Rose does a really great job in the lead, you like Dora and you feel for her and while she gets one or two dopey lines that stretch things a bit too far, for the most part this young actress handles herself really, really well here.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Hellions arrives on Blu-ray in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.78.1 widescreen and it looks excellent, though quite obviously a whole lot of the color has been intentionally drained out and/or manipulated here. Shot digitally the image is as pristine as you’d expect it to be while fine detail is consistently impressive. The colors are sometimes very realistic looking and at other times otherworldly, but this suits the tone of the storyline well though. The transfer features nice inky blacks and plenty of muted earth tones and grays used throughout, which contrasts with the frequent pink tint given to certain scenes. Skin tones look great, nice and accurate, and there’s never any waxiness or smearing. The movie looks great on Blu-ray.

    The only audio option provided is a DTS-HD 5.1 track in English with removable subtitles offered up in English only. The audio is clean, clear and quite detailed. Sound plays a big part in the effectiveness of this movie so be sure to watch it at a good volume. Levels are nicely balanced and there are no problems at all with any hiss or distortion.

    Extras are limited to a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection.

    The Final Word:

    Hellions is a mind-fuck of a movie but it’s well done and occasionally pretty creepy too. The acting is solid, the art direction is great and despite some occasional missteps here and there, it’s fast paced and twisted in all the right ways. The Blu-ray release is light on extras but the presentation is otherwise very strong.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!