Hellions first published by TheHorrorShow
“I understand you may be feeling a wide range of emotions right now – and that’s very normal.”
We may be wondering, though, just how normal it is that 17-year-old goth Dora Vogel (Chloe Rose), still in shock after hearing from her doctor (Rossif Sutherland) that she is four weeks pregnant, sees the pig ornament on the doctor’s desk start pouring out blood from between its carved wooden trotters. It is an early sign that what we are seeing in Hellions is subjectified and distorted, representing the anxiety-riddled psyche of a young woman in trouble.
Uncertain what to do, or how to break the news of her pregnancy to either her boyfriend Jace (Luke Bilyk) or to her mother Kate (Rachel Wilson), Dora opts, against the advice of both doctor and mother, to stay in alone that Halloween – only to change her mind once Kate and Dora’s younger brother Remi (Peter Dacunha) have left for some trick or treating. Yet as Dora waits, dressed as an angel, for Jace to come pick her up, some grotesquely masked kids come a-knocking with demonic designs on the unborn, unwanted child in her belly – and as everything is tinted eerily pink under a dreamy blood moon, Dora must face a choice that deep inside she knows has already been made.
Here symbols of pregnancy and abortion abound, merged with the hellish iconography of Halloween, whether it is the plump pumpkin that Remi carves (“Now take out all those guts,” Kate instructs him), or the bloody egg thrown by a prankster at the window, or the kids who keep popping up “out of nowhere”, Hellions shifts from the real-world concerns of a conflicted girl confronted with premature adulthood, to a crepuscular masquerade in which her ‘wide range of emotions’ is given free rein as her tokophobia and paedophobia come out to play.
Mixing elements of Bryan Bertino’s The Strangers (2008), Tom Shankland’s The Children (2008) and Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury’s Inside (2007) into its bag of sweets and tricks, this is a slippery, stylised all-nighter of malevolence, madness and mid-teens maternity. Here the presence of Robert Patrick (as the town’s Halloween-hating policeman) anchors everything to genre, while the prominence of ‘bath salts’ neatly ambiguates the narrative between domestic normalcy and psychedelic excursion.
As the children’s home invasion, whether real or imagined, cuts deep, our heroine will eventually, inevitably bleed for baby – and the hospital setting with which the film both begins and ends merges birth, death and every state in between. Directed by Pontypool‘s Bruce McDonald with increasingly hallucinatory visuals and some very subtle sound design, it’s an unnerving trip alright, with a conclusion whose particular horror is left for the viewer to decide.
© Anton Bitel