Intriguing plot has Tasya Vos (Mandy’s Andrea Riseborough) working as an assassin for an organization that uses implants placed in people’s heads to possess them, and thus have them unwittingly carry out assassinations. Tasya is tasked with taking out corporation head John Parse (Sean Bean) and his daughter Ava (Tuppence Middleton) by possessing the body of Ava’s boyfriend Colin (Christopher Abbott). Things go awry, when Colin’s will becomes stronger than Tasya anticipated and now the two minds fight for control of Colin’s body and Tasya finds herself trapped inside his head.
Flick is written and directed by Brandon Cronenberg and is not only an interesting idea, but shows that the son of the legendary David Cronenberg has certainly paid good attention to his father’s works. The visual style evokes some of the more artsy sci-fi flicks of the 70s and 80s and as with his famous dad’s horror themed films, the flick can get quite gruesome. In the negative, the movie is very slow paced and somber, making it’s 104 minutes seem even longer and for this type of story, the film can get a bit too gruesome for it’s own good. Some of the gore seems like giddy overkill. The cast is good, as are the performances, and the battle of wills between Tasya and Colin is intriguingly portrayed. While the film doesn’t quite fire on all cylinders, it does show Brandon Cronenberg as a filmmaker with his own vision and ideas, and that he has the potential to make his own mark outside from under his legendary father’s shadow. Possessor also stars Jennifer Jason Leigh as Tasya’s boss Girder and Hellions star Rossif Sutherland as Michael, Tasya’s estranged husband.
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Simply put, Hellions is one of the best horror films of the year and possibly a new Halloween cult classic. Spooky, fairy tale-like story has 17 year-old teen Dora Vogel (Chloe Rose) finding out on Halloween that she is pregnant. Being an expectant mother is the least of her worries as Dora finds herself home alone on Halloween night with a blood moon in the sky and her house besieged by a pack of bizarre and vicious, costumed ‘children’ who want her unborn child. Now, as her child grows at an unnatural rate, Dora must fight for her life against this demonic brood who want ‘blood for baby’ and turn Halloween night into a nightmare.
Written by Pascal Trottier and directed by Pontypool‘s Bruce McDonald, this is a spooky and sometimes downright surreal Halloween tale that not only evoked parts of Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat, but Don Coscarelli’s Phantasm as well. Even so, it is it’s own movie with it’s own style and a style filled with Halloween spirit it is! With fields of pumpkins and it’s creepy costumed gremlins that haunt and hunt our pretty heroine, the film does ooze All Hallows Eve. McDonald gives this loads of atmosphere and there are some scenes that border on hallucinogenic, as the world around Dora changes into some kind of nightmarish dimension under the blood moon. There are some suspenseful sequences as the demonic little fiends try to get at Dora and chases once she’s forced to flee with the help of a local cop (Robert Patrick). There are also some delightfully gory moments, our little demons are creepy as hell and McDonald uses the traditional Halloween tropes in a gleefully ghoulish manner. McDonald’s creepy visuals and dark fairy tale ambience for the film are captured perfectly by Norayr Kasper’s spooky cinematography and there is a very atmospheric score by Todor Kobakov and Ian LeFeuvre. If the film has a weak point, much like this year’s It Follows, it’s that it’s climax is possibly a bit too ambiguous for it’s own good. While the ambiguity of exactly who or what Dora is carrying inside her and who exactly our little “Hellions” are works fine, the ending leaves us scratching our heads a little…or maybe it was all in Dora’s head? Other than that, this is a nightmarish and creepy little Halloween-steeped horror that doesn’t spare us on chills, thrills and splashes of gore.
We have a small, but very effective cast. As Dora, Chloe Rose makes quite an impression and has strong star potential delivering a frightened teen who becomes a resourceful fighter when threatened. She has a strong screen presence and not just because she is beautiful, but she radiates a strength even in the sequences where she is afraid. She brings Dora’s range of emotions to the screen well and can kick demon ass when she needs to. Robert Patrick is good as Office “Corman”…a nice nod to Roger Corman…and while it’s Rose’s show, he has some strong moments as a cop dealing with something he has encountered before and trying to help Dora escape a fate he once witnessed. The small supporting cast are all fine in minor roles with Rossif Sutherland as Dr. Henry, Rachel Wilson as Dora’s Mother and Peter DaCunha as her little brother Remi.
Some may not like this film due to it’s somewhat surreal nature and an ending that is maybe a touch too ambiguous, but it is filled with Halloween spirit and has plenty of spooky atmosphere, chills and spattered blood. Our diminutive spooks are very effective and we have a very memorable horror heroine in Chloe Rose. As a big fan of the horrors this film sometimes evoked, I really enjoyed this diabolically mischievous horror thriller and highly recommend it, especially to those who love films that embrace the spirit of Halloween.
3 and 1/2 Hellions.