Tuesday, February 2, 2016

HELLIONS (2015) (Blu-ray Review)

HELLIONS (2015) 

Label: Scream Factory I IFC Midnight 
Region Code: A 
Rating: Unrated
Duration: 82 Minutes
Audio: English DTS-HD MA .1 with Optional English Subtitles
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (2.35:1)
Director: Bruce McDonald 
Cast: Chloe Rose, Luke Bilyk, Peter DaCunha, Rachel Wilson, Robert Patrick, Rossif Sutherland

Synopsis: Strange trick-or-treaters plague conflicted teenager Dora Vogel (Chloe Rose) at her isolated home on Halloween. Under siege by forces she can't understand, Dora must defend both body and soul from relentless Hellions, dead-set on possessing something Dora will not give them. Set in a visually haunting landscape and featuring "genuine moments of spookiness" (Filmbook) and a score that's "fun, terrifying and inventive" (soundonsight.org), Hellions redefines the boundaries of horror with its potent brew of Halloween iconography, teenage angst and desperate survival.

We have the lovely Chloe Rose as a troubled-teen who finds out she is knocked-up on Halloween, which I imagine would sort of suck all the fun outta the night. While her mom and little brother head out for a night of trick or treating she is stood up by her stoner boyfriend, and ends up staying home to hand out candy to the masked kids in the neighborhood. Its a pretty standard night of handing out sweets until a group of creepy kids show up on her doorstep wanting more than just bite-sized candy bars, the trick or treaters turn out to be demonic creepers intent on snatching her unborn child.

What at first seems like a home invasion type scenario with baby-snatching tendencies turns a bit odder with the introduction of a supernatural element, as a pink haze of unreality descends over the movie, giving this Halloween night a surreal, nightmarish quality. The desaturated pink hued scenes carry with them a certain amount of atmosphere but the whole pink-tinting left me cold, in short it  seemed a rather cheap effect. Up to this point I had enjoyed the cinematography and tone of the movie, but the pink-tinting rubbed me the wrong way if for no other reason that it drew attention to itself. I can see what they might have been going for, a certain amount of pink hued surreality, but it just  didn't work for me. 

On the plus side actress Chloe Rose as our preggers teen is very good in the role, she's a teen in a harrowing place who rises to the occasion, a strong young woman in a weird place, set upon by demonic trick or treaters out for her unborn child. Rose is joined by Robert Patrick (X-Files), who seems to pop up in quite a few indie horror movies these days. I love the guy to death, but he doesn't have a whole lot to do other than to drop some expository dialogue, adding a little to the mythology of the masked-creeps, but he does very little else other than carry a shotgun around. What were left with is basically our teen protagonist trying to survive the night while under attack from the masked-kids, all the while the child within her is developing at an alarming rate, by the end of the movie she has come full term, and I was left scratching my head wondering what the fuck did I just watch, and why?

I did enjoy the design of the demonic trick or treaters, there's  sack-headed scarecrow which brought to mind Sam from Trick 'r Treat, a creepy bucket-headed menace, a doll-faced terror and a few others, the kids were good stuff. If these little bastards showed up on my doorstep on Halloween I would be alarmed, particularly if one was carrying a hatchet. There's also a pretty eerie score for this one, a chorus of children, which added to the creepiness, and the Halloween vibe is strong which I can certainly appreciate. 

The disc from scream Factory looks good, a solid A/V presentation all the way around with an effective surround sound audio mix, unfortunately the disc does not have any extras. As much as I think the movie is a miss I would have liked to hear director Bruce McDonald speak about the movie and what his intentions were. The release does come with a sleeve of reversible artwork and a slipcover. I loved the Halloween vibe of the movie but when the color was sucked out of the picture so too was my enthusiasm. The underlying teen pregnancy anxiety is a good kernel of an idea for a horror movie but this is a bit of a confusing mess of a movie. While I I usually go to bat for horror movies that prefer style over substance I struggled with this pink nightmare of a movie.  2/5