Bruce McDonald’s highly intelligent zombie chiller Pontypool is still one of the very best horror movies of the last decade, so any new film from the Canadian filmmaker is required viewing. Hellions, written by Pascal Trottier, may not match those lofty heights but it’s a strong reminder of what an interesting and creative director he is.
It’s Halloween, and teenager Dora Vogel (Chloe Rose) has just been told that she’s pregnant. Choosing to stay in while her mother and little brother go trick or treating, Dora is all set for a quiet, reflective night. What she’s not prepared for are the vicious kids with disturbing masks who seem very interested in what’s in her belly. As the blood moon begins, the laws of time and space begin to bend and tear…
McDonald kicks things off with plenty of gorgeous small town Halloween iconography before taking a sharp and confident turn into his lead character’s nightmare. The bulk of the film is tinged with a striking pink hue (blame the Blood Moon, possibly) as storms rage inside the house and time becomes meaningless.
Characters pop up from time to time to try and help, like Rossif Sutherland’s elf-eared and sadly ineffectual doctor to Robert Patrick’s gruff-but-kindly cop (the veteran character actor’s on good form here), but this is very much Dora’s journey, as the kids make clear with their horrifyingly precise descriptions of “what happens next.” It’s worth noting that Rose is excellent in the lead, giving us a strong emotional connection to the film even as things get loopy.
It’s very impressive how McDonald manages to create a properly creepy Halloween movie (those masks will stay with you) while pushing for something unique. It’s fairly brutal in places, but also determinedly strange structurally and visually. His approach may shake a few viewers off along the way, but we loved this striking seasonal chiller. Hellions is creepy, it’s hugely atmospheric, it’s beautifully shot and we can’t wait to see it again.