Canadian director Bruce McDonald is no half-measures filmmaker. His 2009 chamber zombie flick “Pontypool” upended conventional horror action by focusing on the monologues of the doomed. Now he’s given us “Hellions,” a Halloween-centric fright film that tips in the opposite direction: drowning us in phantasmagoric visuals that, regrettably, lose their impact as the film drags on.
It starts moodily enough, with teenager Dora (an appealing Chloe Rose) learning she’s pregnant as her sleepy town prepares for Halloween. McDonald does a good job teasing us with the banal decorative trappings of the occasion: pumpkins, knives, costumes, kid high jinks. But then Dora’s alone in her house, and the trick-or-treaters arrive. They’re insistent, freaky-masked children with taunting voices and alien screams who make violent claim on the suspicious embryo growing inside Dora.
Given screenwriter Pascal Trottier’s psychologically simple fusion of “Rosemary’s Baby,” “The Wizard of Oz” and “Village of the Damned,” McDonald and cinematographer Norayr Kasper sweat out a loud, coursing riot of stained and saturated images that resemble an overbearing death-metal music video more than a sustained gothic freakout. “Hellions” is art book horror, something to flip through but never truly eerie or scary.
No MPAA rating
Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes
Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood. Also on VOD