It’s pretty sad when you sit through a horror movie and the only thing you can take away is the delight of seeing another talented “Degrassi” alum taking on the horror genre. Chloe Rose was one of my favorite characters of the series, and its fun to see her tackling more complex material. “Hellions” is ultimately a mixed bag that presents brief glimmers of greatness, but constantly stumbles in to sheer mediocrity and incoherency. To make matters worse, the film ends without any real clarification of what we’d just seen. Bruce McDonald seems to be building up to something, but then just shuts the film down before we can make sense of anything we’d just seen.
Rose is very good in her performance as young Dora Vogel. Vogel is a rebellious teenager prone to hanging out in pumpkin patches and getting high. One day she’s told by her doctor that she’s pregnant. Unsure of what to do, and horrified about disappointing her mother who simply wants her to graduate before anything like getting pregnant happens to her, she tries to distract herself with Halloween. Nothing goes as planned though as she’s soon terrorized by a group of relentless trick or treaters, all of whom want to get inside her house and want Dora’s baby.
From thereon in, “Hellions” dips its feet in to many sub-genres, and can never seem to make heads or tails of what it wants to accomplish. McDonald brings us through a home invasion, a slasher, a cat and mouse stalker, a mystery, a supernatural thriller, and soon enough a very clear homage to “Rosemary’s Baby.” And McDonald must love “Trick r Treat” as much as I do, as he clearly models his monstrous trick or treaters after Sam and his goons. “Hellions” doesn’t seem to be happy with being just a home invasion thriller, and very quickly McDonald transforms his film in to a very obvious (often clumsy) metaphor for abortion and teen pregnancy.
Dora isn’t just fighting for her life, but she’s fighting for her baby. And she’s not even sure if she wants to, most times. She seems to be punished for considering abortion, and even her doctor (who hints at possible abortion) is brutally mutilated. Before long, Dora is thrust in to a supernatural world where every inch of scenery is symbolic of some form of child rearing, from the deformed fetus, the children dressed as dolls and clowns, the malformed Mickey Mouse monster, and quickly growing child inside of her. This all is connected to pain and fear of the unknown as Dora grows frightened of the child inside of her, and also grows very terrified of the children outside of her door.
It’s all fairly preachy nonsense, and never as cerebral as McDonald thinks it is. We can at least take away the great score and brilliant cinematography, transforming Dora’s world in to a Halloween hell, filled with foggy landscapes draped in Halloween decorations, and exploding pumpkin patches indicating the end of innocence. “Hellions” definitely has the Halloween mood down pat, and it seems to love the holiday. It just never amounts to a great movie. McDonald seems to build up to a surprise or a twist, but offers absolutely nothing. Even the final scene never seems to verify whether or not Dora’s trip in to madness was all a result of her anxiety of having a child, or something much more sinister. It’s a shame. “Hellions” packs talent, just not enough quality to warrant a recommendation.