Horror films are tricky to execute. There are a ton of elements that must come together to create a truly terrifying experience, and I would say most filmmakers don't quite achieve pure horror. It's unfortunate, because what could be a great horror film that will live in our minds forever, usually fizzles out and becomes immediately forgettable with the exception of a handful of horror titles.
'Hellions' from Bruce McDonald certainly has a great premise and starts out mostly promising. It even looks excellent, visually speaking, but the film is so jumbled and out there, that it falls off it's own path, trying to be different, that it never finds its footing. There are some genuinely creepy moments here, but it mostly falls flat and leaves a sour taste in your mouth.
'Hellions' is set on Halloween and follows a teenage girl named Dora (Chloe Rose) who loves smoking a joint with her boyfriend after school. After a visit to her doctor, she learns that she is pregnant, which she finds hard to believe. Her mother and younger brother head out to trick r treat, while she stays home to pass out candy and wait for her boyfriend to show up.
Quickly, a couple of kids show up in some truly terrifying costumes, which is similar to the film 'Trick r Treat'. They keep showing up, ringing the doorbell, clawing on the doors, and showing up in random places. They also seem to be multiplying, and wanting to cause harm to Dora and her unborn child. Through wind blowing inside the house, clocks spinning out of control, screams, and some blood, McDonald ties to visually take the film in a dream like sequence through most of the film, by coloring the film in pink and gray.
Part of the schtick is to debate on whether or not any of this horror is actually happening or is it all in Dora's mind. It's a plot point that doesn't quite work here, and would have been better suited with a straight forward plot. The dialogue isn't all that great and some of the delivery is laughable, but the visuals and creepy kids are haunting for the most part. Robert Patrick shows up a little bit as a cop, but doesn't do much other than that.
There are some blood and guts and some cringe-worthy scenes of gore, but it's nothing that you haven't seen before or really gratuitous. 'Hellions' had a lot of promise and if it stuck with a simpler story line, it would have been great, but it got lost in it's own stylistic choices.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Hellions' comes with a 25 GB Blu-ray Disc from Scream Factory and is Region A Locked. There are no inserts here, but the cover art is reversible with alternate artwork. The disc is housed in a hard, blue plastic case and a cardboard sleeve. A few trailers play before the movie starts.
'Hellions' comes with a 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This film is quite strange, visually speaking. The first 25 minutes or so of the film is bright, vibrant, and looks like a realistic autumn day in a small town. The exterior shots showcase great detail and excellent colors. Interior shots are also vivid with some earthy tones. After this 25 minute mark, the film goes into various pink hues, meaning the entire color palette is basically just pink and gray, which look brighter in some moments, darker in some moments, and just vague in others. Then, there are a few short clips, where the color scheme goes back to normal.
The visuals are just all over the place, despite looking well shot and beautiful. Stylistically, I get why this choice was made, but it seems to be overly done. Detail still looks sharp, which reveals nice facial features and gory makeup wounds, as well as individual hairs on the actor's faces, but tend to be a little softer in the pink hues. Black levels are deep and inky and the skin tones are natural when not bathed in pink. If you can get past the pink color throughout the film, 'Hellions' actually looks good, it's just a bit much. There were no major compression issues to speak of here.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix and sounds fairly good. With this type of horror film, you'll want the surrounds pouring out creepy sounds, which 'Hellions' does nicely. Sound effects are well-balanced and loud, including clawing at doors, banging on wood, chilling whispers, and animal like screams. Gun shots are robust as well. Ambient noises of the autumn wind and leaves rustling are also full of life.
The score is haunting with some decent crescendos and always adds to the suspense in each scene. Dialogue is crystal clear and easy to follow, and free of any pops, cracks, hiss, or high shrills. The bass kicks in from time to time and is never rocky. For this low-budget horror film, the soundscape is quite good.
Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2 Mins.) - Trailer for the film.
'Hellions' had the creepiness and potential to be a great horror film, but due to its poor script, weird stylistic choices, and jumbled plot, it slid off the rails. There are some creepy moments here and there, but it won't be anything you'll remember past a day or so. The video and audio presentations are both good, despite the pink and gray tint to the image, and the only extra is a trailer. If you're a sucker for creepy kid horror movies, rent this one first.