Release Date(s)2015 (February 2, 2016)
Studio(s)IFC Midnight (Shout!/Scream Factory)
- Film/Program Grade: C+
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: D-
Hellions comes from filmmaker Bruce McDonald, who also directed the critically-acclaimed Pontypool from 2008. The movie tells the story of a 17-year old girl who, after learning of a surprise pregnancy, prepares to stay home alone on Halloween night to hand out candy while avoiding telling her mother and her boyfriend about the devastating news. But after receiving some strange trick-or-treaters, who demand that she give them her baby, she winds up fighting the murderous little things off as reality changes around her and nothing is at it seems.
Whereas many horror movies nowadays have a difficult time keeping their cameras still, Hellions is the exception. It’s easy on both the eyes and the ears, with solid cinematography that invokes the likes of Kubrick, and sound design that has a bit of gravitas. The movie as a whole is... well, interesting. It’s not bad in the sense that it’s cheap junk. It’s clear that the filmmakers have something in mind, but the film winds up feeling needlessly complicated, particularly because there is no clear idea of what’s really happening. The story, and the way that it plays out, could be seen as a metaphor for the feelings of an unwanted underage pregnancy and that has potential. But in this case, it doesn’t feel 100% natural. Yet without it, the film would feel perfunctory. As is usually the case, your mileage may vary.
Scream Factory debuts the movie on Blu-ray in a flat but ultimately solid presentation. Everything from close-ups to wide shots have strong detail, but the digital look of it all lacks visual depth. There’s a fairly strong color palette on display, although much of the movie has a pink-like haze to it. Black levels are deep, with good shadow detailing, and brightness and contrast levels are excellent as well. The audio is presented on two tracks, English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD. The 5.1 mix features the aforementioned score and sound effects, which are great on their own, but the overall mix lacks ambience and significant speaker-to-speaker activity. Dialogue is clear and discernable at all times, but the 2.0 presentation was probably a more effective soundtrack in the overall scheme of things. There are also optional subtitles in English and Spanish to choose from. The only extras available are the film’s trailer and additional trailers for The Stranger, Contracted: Phase II, and Bound to Vengeance, which open the disc.
To provide some comparison, Hellions is evocative of both Trick r Treat and Tales of Halloween. The story initially feels like it’s leading you down a similar path, but it loses its way. This film is definitely memorable in spots and is beautiful to look at, but it probably won’t have the kind of staying power that one might expect from its content.
- Tim Salmons