×

Hellbent

A straight-ahead slasher pic with the big difference of an all-gay male character cast, "Hellbent" is minor horror fun ably handled by first-time feature helmer Paul Etheredge-Ouzts. Slick indie's novel tilt will both help and hinder, ensuring high profile at gay fests and on gay rental/sales shelves, but limiting mainstream exposure.

With:
With: Dylan Fergus, Bryan Kirkwood, Hank Harris, Andrew Levitas, Matt Phillips, Nick Name, Wren T. Brown, Nina Landey, Baron Rogers, Luke Weaver.

A straight-ahead slasher pic with the big difference of an all-gay male character cast, “Hellbent” is fun — if minor horror fun — ably handled by first-time feature helmer Paul Etheredge-Ouzts. Slick indie’s novel tilt will both help and hinder, ensuring high profile at gay fests and on gay rental/sales shelves, but limiting the exposure item might have won in more mainstream avenues.

By-the-genre-book prologue has horny couple — hunky young men in this case — making out in their car, in an isolated lover’s lane. A couple of false scares later, they’re both fatally visited by a scythe-wielding intruder wearing devil-horn mask. Subsequent grisly discovery of the headless corpses lands on the desk of rookie cop Eddie (Dylan Fergus), who’s followed the family career path but has been reduced to desk-cop by an injury, and is further nervous about being “the gay guy” on the force. (Though since this is West Hollywood, one seriously doubts he’d be the only one.)

Eddie’s bland model-handsome protag is supported by three flatmates who soon get into their costumed finest for the night’s Halloween street fair. Shy Joey (Hank Harris) has donned leather, hoping to impress a golden boy he’s pining for; brash bisexual Chaz (Andrew Levitas) is dressed as a cowboy; insecure Tobey (Matt Phillips), in wig, gown and pumps, hopes the getup will snare someone attracted by brains rather than looks.

Demonstrating classic slasher-pic obliviousness to danger, the foursome parks several blocks from the party, having to cross through woods (oh yeah, those famous West Hollywood woods) where the murders took place just the night before. En route, they have a creepy silent encounter with Devil Guy, who they treat as a mere prankster despite that highly visible scythe. Natch, mystery man (or monster?) then pursues the friends all night throughout the Halloween fete.

We soon discover, again as per genre norms, that it is not life-preserving to be a) the least cute major cast member, b) zonked on recreational drugs, or c) soused enough to flirt with the killer (who happens to be carrying two blood-dripping, head-shaped sacks).

While formulaic progress is more entertaining than scary, the hyperbolic climax raises the pulse somewhat as lone survivors Eddie and his rough looking but secretly nice pickup Jake (Bryan Kirkwood) find themselves locked in Eddie’s apartment with guess-who.

Baddie’s identity and motives are left blank, not to mention why he chooses to persecute these particular men when the streets are jam-packed with potential victims. Numerous suspensions of disbelief are required, notably the ludicrous notion that a person could get stabbed to death in the middle of a crowded dance floor without anyone noticing. But then logic, plot intricacy and character depth are not really hallmarks of the slasher genre. Fans will find no more reason to quibble with the script than usual.

Perfs are adequate, with Levitas providing the most spark as an unabashed hedonist who’s also a conscientious friend. Garishly colorful production design and lensing take full advantage of the carnival milieu (some footage was shot during actual 2001-02 West Hollywood Halloween celebrations). Editing has a music-vid feel, and soundtrack includes equal doses of club tracks and Korn-style nu metal.

Trivia note: “Hellbent” was a title arrived at via an Internet contest that also reaped the felicitous proposal “28 Gays Later.”

Hellbent

Production: A Sneak Preview Entertainment production. Produced by Stephen J. Wolfe, Josh Silver. Executive producers, Joseph Wolf, Karen Wolf, Michael J. Roth. Co-producer, Brad Warshaw. Directed, written by Paul Etheredge-Ouzts.

Crew: Camera (color, HD vid), Mark Mervis; editor, Stephen Dyson; music, Mike Shapiro; production designer, Matthew Flood Ferguson; set decorator, Gregory Mannino; costume designer, Katy Welch; sound editor, Patrick Griffith; assistant director, J Gira, Adam Fike. Reviewed at Roxie Cinema, San Francisco, May 26, 2004. (In San Francisco Lesbian & Gay Film Festival.) Running time: 85 MIN.

With: With: Dylan Fergus, Bryan Kirkwood, Hank Harris, Andrew Levitas, Matt Phillips, Nick Name, Wren T. Brown, Nina Landey, Baron Rogers, Luke Weaver.

More Film

  • Disney Movies

    Why Audiences Are Only Going to Disney Movies

    Julie Bikhman of Manhattan might buy the tickets, but when it comes to deciding what movie to see, her three young children are the ones calling the shots. “We pick them,” her 11-year-old daughter Annie declares before heading into a screening of Disney’s live-action “The Lion King.” “If it’s a Marvel movie, we know it’s [...]

  • Rob Schneider'The Week Of' film premiere,

    Rob Schneider Running for SAG-AFTRA Board, Supporting Matthew Modine

    Rob Schneider is running for a SAG-AFTRA national board seat as a member of presidential candidate Matthew Modine’s progressive Membership First slate and as a representative of the union’s San Francisco branch. Schneider is a former cast member on “Saturday Night Live” with movie credits on “Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo,” “The Hot Chick,” “The Benchwarmers,” [...]

  • The Lion King

    'Lion King' VFX Supervisor Rob Legato to Keynote at the 2019 View Conference

    Rob Legato, visual effects supervisor of “The Lion King,” “The Addams Family” co-director Conrad Vernon and Baobab Studios’ co-founder and chief creative officer Eric Darnell, director of the VR studio’s Emmy- and Annie-winning VR short “Crow: The Legend,” are rounding out the keynote speakers at this fall’s 20th edition of the View Conference in Turin, [...]

  • A woman prays at a makeshift

    Japan Expresses Its Grief Over Deadly Kyoto Animation Arson Attack

    Fellow animators and others in the Japanese entertainment industry have expressed their sorrow and solidarity with Kyoto Animation, the well-respected anime studio that suffered a horrific arson attack and the deaths of dozens of staffers. “We are all fellows in the same boat. If we continue to create without being afraid, we will find solace [...]

  • For Lineup Story

    Billie Piper's Directorial Debut, 'Rare Beasts,' to Bow in Venice Critics' Week

    “Rare Beasts,” the directorial debut of British stage and screen actress Billie Piper (“Doctor Who,” “Penny Dreadful,” “Collateral”) is set to premiere at the Venice Film Festival’s Critics’ Week, which has unveiled its lineup of nine first works, four of them from female filmmakers. Produced by Vaughan Sivell of Western Edge Pictures in association with [...]

  • 'Mientras dure la guerra' -Rodaje Modmedia-

    Alejandro Amenabar, Ricardo Darin, Paco Cabezas Bound for San Sebastian

    MADRID  –  Alejandro Amenábar, Ricardo Darín and Paco Cabezas, director of episodes from “Peaky Blinders” and “American Gods,” look set to join Penelope Cruz, already confirmed as a Donostia Award winner, at this year’s 67th San Sebastian Intl. Film Festival. The biggest movie event in the Spanish-speaking world, this year’s San Sebastian runs Sept.20-28. Amenábar’s [...]

  • Pinewood Studios James Bond

    Netflix's Shepperton Studios Deal Is Stretching the U.K.'s Production Limits

    Netflix’s huge new hub at Shepperton Studios outside London is a further fillip for Britain’s booming production sector. Amid jitters over Brexit and its effects on the economy, the streaming giant’s commitment is a vote of confidence in the U.K. entertainment industry and a continuing source of local jobs. But the decision by Netflix to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content