I finished this movie a couple of hours ago and it’s taken this long for me to even begin attempting to write it up. This is, hands-down, the weirdest movie I’ve watched during this experiment. What I’ve had trouble deciding is whether I loved it or hated it… and I don’t think I’m any closer to coming to a decision. So, I guess what I’m saying, is you’ll just have to come along with me while I work my issues out.
Hellions is a fever-dream of a movie… truly. It sets its viewers up by starting out with a deceptively simple (and simply shot) first act… then, about, thirty minutes in, it takes a sharp left turn into utter weirdness. This one is going to be really difficult to summarize, so I’m going to keep it bare-bones. It revolves around a 17-year old girl who, on Halloween, finds out she is pregnant. While staying home for the evening (her mother and younger brother go out trick-or-treating) she begins to receive increasingly strange and disturbing visitations by children in ominous Halloween costumes… weird mayhem ensues. While that summary is technically accurate, it makes the movie seem more straightforward than it is. I was about to tell you not to expect linear storytelling, but that’s not entirely accurate… thinking back, this movie is actually quite linear… just, a ton of random things happen throughout. What I can say is do not expect a by-the-numbers horror movie, clear “rules”, or a satisfying ending… if you leave these expectations at the door, you may be able to get something from the film. I found it extremely unsettling and disturbing in places.
The movie starts off with a 70’s-slasher film vibe. There was a part of me that couldn’t stop thinking of Halloween. To be honest, I’m not sure if that’s because the movie takes place on Halloween, or if the filmmakers (writer Pascal Trottier and director by Bruce McDonald) were purposefully creating an homage to that film. The first twenty minutes have very little in the way of a horror elements (apart from a rather disturbing dream sequence). Instead, the time is spent introducing the main character and her struggle with an unplanned pregnancy. Having come into this movie blind (apart from a seeing a preview a while back (which, did not accurately portray the style of the movie)) the transition from this opening to the hallucinogenic second and third acts did not go smoothly. It took me nearly fifteen minutes to get back into the movie, since I kept expecting the protagonist to wake from another dream. However, once it became apparent that this was the route the movie was taking I was able to sit back and enjoy (or at least appreciate) what was happening. At some point in the film (probably during the indoor storm sequence) you realize that things simply aren’t going to make any sense. Once you accept this (and I truly think I’m doing a service by telling you this) you can appreciate the film for what it is: a fever-dream of horror. The director does his best to clearly communicate this to the viewer. He uses an overly stylized color palate, that look like it came out of Instagram, and presents odd visual effects. This makes everything that is happening on screen feel unreal. This is also achieved through the actors (apart from the protagonist (who is playing it straight)) who have to deliver very strange lines in even stranger tones. I’m honestly not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. On one hand, it made it easier for me to accept the increasingly bizarre things that were happening in front of me. On the other hand, since there was a dream-like quality to the horror, it was hard to become invested in any of the characters. Even when truly horrible things happened, it felt like it was happening in someone’s dream and therefore had no real consequences. What I will say, is that I was able to get over this feeling for the last third of the movie and just went with it. Finally, the kids (both how they were dressed and how they were directed) were extremely creepy… it makes me want to turn out my lights next Halloween.
Okay, I want to repeat my disclaimer one last time before I leave you. While I am recommending this film, I cannot say that it is for every (or even many) horror fans. If you still think you want to give it a chance you just have to make sure you submit completely to it and don’t ask any questions… at least not until it over… then, like me, you can ask yourself dozens of unanswerable questions.