Sundance 2015 Review – Hellions (2015)


After putting himself on the map with the well-received Pontypool in 2008, director Bruce McDonald teams-up with writer Pascal Trottier (The Colony) for Halloween-set horror tale Hellions.

When malevolent trick or treaters turn up at her door, pregnant teenager Donna Vogel (Chloe Rose) must survive the Halloween night from hell with the aid of the town sheriff (Robert Patrick).

Despite opening with great promise and suggesting something which appears to be a classic, good old-fashioned fun Halloween horror, McDonald’s film quickly falls of track. Opening scenes of Donna and boyfriend Jace (Luke Bilyk) set in an overcast pumpkin field evoke an eerie foreboding which sadly comes to nothing. Elements of teen angst and the potential horror connotations of childbirth feel present but severely underutilised – leaving us with a watch that relies solely on the power of its scares, which sadly do not amount to much.

Failing to quicken the pulse in the slightest, Hellions is a visually and thematically lethargic watch that appears to be unsure of what it wants to achieve. Shot with a drab grey-tinged sepia tone, McDonald’s film is little more than a lifeless home invasion thriller that borrows heavily from Michael Dougherty‘s hugely superior Trick ‘r Treat. The pumpkin-headed creature terrorising Donna is near-identical to Dougherty’s creation.

There is no real established tension in Hellions‘ scares, despite the potential for cathartic pleasure in the home-invasion angle. The only saving grace is the arrival of Robert Patrick‘s Sheriff who gets a few enjoyable moments ass-kicking to amuse us with – but this is a character that lacks a sufficient amount of development to become a cult favourite. Axing Bilyk from the film far too early removes the potential for some interesting boyfriend-girlfriend centric horror-drama, leaving the likeable Chloe Rose to do her best with a near-incoherent, hodge-podged script.

Hellions has a few impressive moments – the house being ravaged by a windstorm, some creepy villain mask design, and an occasionally haunting atmosphere, but these moments are few and far between resulting in a watch that feels lifeless, drab and remarkably non-scary.

Andrew McArthur

Genre: Horror Venue: Sundance 2015 Director: Bruce MacDonald Cast: Luke Bilyk, Nicholas Craig, Sydney Cross, Peter DaCunha, Robert Patrick, Chloe Rose