By: Addison Wylie
Bruce McDonald (Hard Core Logo, The Tracey Fragments, Pontypool) is a very busy filmmaker. In 2010 alone, the award-winning director released three films. If I don’t like one of McDonald’s films, I can at least find something I can appreciate about his filmmaking, but his latest horror Hellions suggests to me that the next best thing for his career may be some downtime.
The main problem with Hellions, a film about a teen mom suffering through a horrible Halloween by being stalked by nasty trick-o-treaters, is that it’s completely played out. Aside from some gripping visuals acquired by Norayr Kasper’s digital infrared cinematography (which captures a trance-inducing purple tinge to the film’s visual resolution), McDonald milks all he can out of tired tropes involving evil children, jump scares, and woeful wombs. The scares are unleashed as if McDonald has recently discovered them, meanwhile the audience waits for something stimulating. They will also wonder if the motivation behind the hazy visuals was to act as a hypnotizing pendulum to bring attention away from how much of the film is old hat.
Degrassi: The Next Generation’s Chloe Rose is in charge of carrying most of the film with a solo performance, which she does fairly well. Although, much of the film’s over-rehearsed staginess detracts from any natural fear Rose is trying to portray. Robert Patrick also shows up as a curmudgeon cop, which only evokes fanboys to think of other films where Patrick had more to work with.
Hellions’ tired handling of home invasion had me reminiscing over Audrey Cummings’ Berkshire County, another low-budget Canadian horror. Cummings’ film may have lacked originality, but she made up for it by finding inventive ways to build towards startling moments. Since Berkshire County was Cummings’ feature debut, I imagine she had time to become legitimately inspired. Hellions feels like a film that was rushed into production without substantial material or a strong vision.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie