Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hellbent (2004) - Review

Hellbent (2004) **
D: Paul Etheredge
C: Dylan Fergus, Bryan Kirkwood, Hank Harris, Andrew Levitas, Matt Phillips, Kent James

Plot Synopsis: Two gay men on a date are murdered the night before Halloween in West Hollywood, California. Eddie and his friends Joey, Chaz and Tobey are going out the following night to the West Hollywood Halloween festival when they encounter the psycho, who sets his eye on them. The killer stalks them through the festival as Chaz parties, Joey chases his jock crush, Tobey tries dressing in drag, and Eddie pursues Jake, the bad boy he wants to get to know better. Not until the very end do you find out who dies and who survives their night of terror.

Review: Whenever a film bills itself as the first of anything, I often think of innovation & creativity. I'm looking for something that I haven't seen before. Hellbent, a horror film produced in 2004, has decided to present itself as the first gay slasher.

The film, which mostly takes place on Halloween night, follows a group of gay men as they party, drink and attempt to have sex with one another. In their midst is a killer. In terms of plotting, this pretty much amounts to a group of characters behaving badly and then being disposed of one by one. We've seen this formula before in several other landmark slashers such as Prom Night (1980) or Friday the 13th (1980). And in that, lies the problem.

Hellbent sticks so closely to the formulas established by the slasher genre, that it's nothing more then just another slasher, but with gay characters. There's not a smidgen of originality or creativity to be found anywhere. In terms of direction though, Paul Etheredge deserves some credit. He attempts to give the proceedings color by having the characters stalked during a busy Halloween celebration that not only takes place in a club, but spills out into an even busier party that is raging on outside. Or another instance, a character is decapitated on the dance floor while people dance around oblivious to what has happened. This is all in attempt to give Hellbent some cinematic quality, but it's not enough to disguise the routine plotting. 

For die hard horror fans and slasher completest, Hellbent will undoubtedly be a curio. However, for a film that had the opportunity to try and break the mold, Hellbent settles for ordinary while aping its heterosexual counterparts. [R] 85 minutes.

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