In Hellions, Canadian director Bruce McDonald (The Tracey Fragments, Pontypool) and first-time screenwriter Pascal Trottier create a provocative new horror mythology, but do such a poor job of explaining it that viewers are sure to be left baffled (and possibly offended).
In an isolated farming community, seventeen-year-old Dora (Chloe Rose) discovers, on Halloween morning, that she’s pregnant. Hours later, literally dressed as an angel, she’s home alone, waiting for her boyfriend, when a gang of creepily costumed children begin terrorizing her. They’re Halloween night demons, and they want her unborn child, which they’ve decided (based on zero evidence) that Dora doesn’t plan to keep.
The best moments in Hellions are visual, as when an unconscious Dora is carried across a pumpkin field by a demon with a giant paper doll-head. The moon is red and the family farm washed in a pink light, strengthening the notion that Dora’s terrors — she nearly drowns in an outhouse filling with thick fetal blood — are all in her mind.
Still, artful pretension can’t cover the sense that McDonald has made (inadvertently, one assumes) a pro-life parable, with his heroine being punished for a decision he hasn’t given her time to make. Hellions is unsettling, but in all the wrong ways.
Directed by Bruce McDonald
Opens September 18, IFC Center
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 15, 2015