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    Hellions (2015): Movie Review

    "A murky study of teenage pregnancy horrors.” 

    How does a teenager come to grips with news of unexpected pregnancy? In Hellions, Canadian director Bruce McDonald draws a dramatic visual of what goes into the mind of a frantic preggie teen, especially that the horrors of Halloween are simply knocking at her door.

    Dora Vogel (Chloe Rose) is a typical 17-year-old high school senior. It is the Halloween and she starts the holiday smoking a joint and relaxing on a pumpkin patch with her boyfriend Jace (Luke Bilyk). But cozy time soon ends when during a routine visit to her gynecologist, Dr. Henry (Rossif Sutherland) informs her that she is four weeks pregnant. With her mom (Rachel Wilson) and brother (Peter DaCunha) going out for trick-or-treat, Dora finds it difficult to process the shocking news.

    Alone in her house and sporting an angel costume, Dora patiently waits for her boyfriend that has not texted her yet. Trick-or-treating soon begins and Dora’s first encounter is with a seemingly mute child dressed in sackcloth, resembling the Scarecrow in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Much to her exasperation, the boy keeps coming back, each time with a new mate clad in exceptionally creepy outfit. To her horror, the kid finally reveals what’s inside his bag. With the mysterious kids egging her house and destroying properties, Dora phone calls for help. Dr. Henry later arrives, as well as rugged small-town cop Corman (Robert Patrick). Yet, the hellions prove to be more menacing and evil. 

    Hellions is a horror flick on the surface but deeper analysis tells that the film is a study of the primal fears and anxieties related to teenage pregnancy, early motherhood and raising children. Such emotions overwhelm the movie’s heroine and these translate to nightmarish dreams and visions. Hence, all things happening in the film are mostly products of Dora’s imaginations. It is initially intriguing and interesting, especially the presence of the mysterious kids who keep staring at her midsection. But the more it leans towards the otherworld, the more it becomes uncertain and chaotic. The terror becomes explicit and the spine-tingling chills the kids bring transform into bloody violence. Dora’s world becomes bathed in pink. Gone are the mystery and menace, substituted with outrageous in-door tornados, CGI explosion of pumpkins and a parade of hellions for a blood ritual that will ease Dora of her sufferings.

    The appearance of the doctor and the cop (who also has related experience with his wife) taints the belief that it is all a dream. Thus, there is no telling which moments are real and can be trusted. Events just unfold without logic and after some point, they become boring and exhausting, especially when they are repeatedly accompanied with chants (“blood for baby”), creepy music and symbols. Metaphors referring to fears of pregnancy are common such as the womb-like Jack-o-‘Lantern, rose-tinted visions, raw eggs splattering on windows, tornadoes inside the house, the masked children and even Dora’s immaculately white angel costume.

    The biggest shortcoming of the film is its lack of character development. At the end of chaos, there is no clear understanding of who Dora is, her relationship to her family and boyfriend, her aspirations as a teen, and the story behind her anxieties. Much worse, there is no lucid explanation at the end of what has truly happened, which are real or imaginary, and how it affects the protag.

    Production design and costumes are superb, perfectly fitting its Halloween theme. The hellions are smartly-dressed such as the Scarecrow, the bucket-head, the Raggedy Ann version, and the lion-head. The eerie arrangement of “Silent Night” is remarkably cool and uncomfortable. 

    Hellions is quite refreshing with its junior-sized creepily-outfitted Halloween monsters who squeals like pigs and are salt-repellent. It has also striking visuals but everything is wasted with its unconvincing, muddled mythology. 

    Production companies: Whizbang Films, Storyteller Pictures 
    Cast: Chloe Rose, Robert Patrick, Rossif Sutherland, Rachel Wilson, Peter DaCunha,  Luke Bilyk 
    Director: Bruce McDonald 
    Screenwriter: Pascal Trottier  
    Producers: Frank Siracusa, Paul Lenart 
    Director of photography: Norayr Kasper 
    Production designer: Andrew Berry  
    Costume designer: Sarah Millman 
    Editor: Duff Smith 
    Music: Todor Kobakov, Ian LeFeuvre


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