Parents' Guide to


By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Wounded characters, iffy behavior in gritty, powerful drama.

Movie R 2014 94 minutes
Hellion Poster Image

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The third feature by writer/director Kat Candler, HELLION is a sensitive, soulful character drama with great sympathy. It doesn't judge any of its characters. Jacob is first seen vandalizing a truck, Hollis is a drunk who neglects his kids, and Pam won't let Wes return to his father, but Candler understands each of them -- their motivations, their worries, their fears, and their flaws -- and they emerge as beautifully, heartbreakingly human. Performances, especially by newcomer Wiggins, are exceptionally strong.

Candler's filmmaking benefits from the film's strong small-town, working-class atmosphere, with its run-down, vacant lots and speed metal music. But this approach also applies to her storytelling, which is a bit lax, and more reliant on moods than on logic. In spite of the honest, realistic characters, many scenes play out through happenstance; Hellion could have been better shaped. But at the end, it's hard not to be moved by these characters, their pain, and their love.

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