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Hellbreeder (2003)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: James Evans, Johannes Roberts

Lyndie Uphill /Alice
Dominique Pinon/Det. Weiss
Darren Day/Sam
Harold Gasnier/Evil Clown
5 10
Alice’s (Uphill) only son was offed by a child killer a while back so when kiddy murders start going down in her neighborhood again, she actively hunts the culprit while battling her own loose grasp on reality. She eventually discovers that a killer vampire-like clown is behind the slayings. Who spiked by Pepsi can with GHB?
Don’t let the creepy box cover fool ya...those expecting a straightforward killer clown opus will be disappointed. Actually, those expecting a straightforward horror movie period, will be disappointed. "Hellbreeder" had more in common with an "artsy-fartsy" film school short expanded into a feature film than a bang-goes-the-bell horror movie.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like pretentious, artistically-inclined fare as much as the next trenchcoat wearing, chain-smoking, café-lounging guy and for the first half hour of this flick, I was digging the thick coating of symbolism and the incessant directorial self-indulgences that were home run my way. Film is, after all, a visual medium and I always enjoy it when filmmakers run with that, communicating the story via images and sound as opposed to dialogue (see the great "Requiem for a Dream"). The directors (yes, the are two) behind this trip went "all out" on that front with image manipulations galore (that “drawing like” sex scene was slick), montages up the ying-yang and a gnarly manner of expressing the leads’ guilt ridden thoughts by materializing them for us to see. They even went as far as having ninety percent of the film play out in some form of slow motion which gave the whole a surreal feel, while echoing the unstable mind of the protagonist. I respected the ballsy and unorthodox moves!

Sadly, this clown made one fatal goof, one that flattened its big red nose against the wall: it never took the substance that it established far or deep enough to satisfy. Instead of fleshing out its potentially gripping storyline and upping the ante on its horror scenarios as time rolled on, the movie just resorted to playing the same freakin' card over and over again...the over-stylized, heavily symbolic and aloof card. So what was at first way groovy (the style) gradually became quite tedious to sit through. How many times do I have to see her family members repeat the same damn thing in visions (We get it! He was her pride and joy…SHEESH)? How many times will that creepy ass clown (great clown) appear just to roar like a lion? How many times is Dominique Pilon going to show up to smoke a cigarette in slow motion? (incidentally, that cop subplot wound up being mostly useless) How many times will a “fear” scenario be set up to then unravel in a tense-less, snail-paced manner? How many times will that kid say “balloon”? TOO MANY TIMES!

In the end, although I respected Hellbreeder’s ambitions and arsty flavor, it left me and the plot in the dust, by being perfectly content in dancing the vague jig for the whole of its running time, therefore never giving me anything concrete to hold on to or any real payoffs to reward me for all the pretentiousness I sat through. The only thing this film was breeding was slow motion. BALLOON THIS!
We get some okay gore, but unfortunately the blood looked way too bright! Think Fruit Punch Kool-Aid! Self cutting, blood vomiting, unstitching one’s stitched torso, a chopped off arm, slit wrists, nasty clown bite marks and a slit throat were found here. Decent.
Lyndie Uphill (Alice) was “on” most of the time, but when she was “off”, she was “off” (like the camera monitor scenes). But overall, I liked her and appreciated the obvious effort she put into her performance. Dominique Pinon (Det. Weiss) sleepwalked through his one (not his fault, not much of a part) and I couldn’t grasp what he was mumbling half the time. Darren Day (Sam) did what he had to do as the Michael Biehn-light of the movie. Harold Gasnier (Evil Clown), looked pretty evil…yup…he did…what else do want me to say?
T & A
We get a nice Lyndie Uphill tit shot, a chick’s ass and the feminine gender get Darren Day’s butt doing some hump and grind.
I’ll give the film this: I adored many of its directing choices, be it lighting-wise (yellow, green), shot compositions, the use of black and white, still pictures and the many stylish tricks in tow. It was a visual assault! Too bad the content was drowned out by all the flash.
The score was redundant at times, but came through most of the time by sounding like Carpenter’s "Halloween" score and delivering bad ass aggressive guitar licks. Good shit!
Granted, "Hellbreeder" was bearable due to its novel feel, its unique visual stamp, its strong score and its shades of "Nightmare on Elm Street", "IT" and "Repulsion". But alas, the meat of the movie wasn’t cooked to a satisfactory degree with the happenings taking the redundant route and the tale never being taken further than the “premise” starting line. Give me something more than JUST showboating for the love of Bozo! How about capitalizing on your story, some scares, ass whooping plot twists, an ending that makes some kind of freaking sense! SOMETHING! When all was said and done, even though I dug the film’s polished look and some of its inventive ideas, the joke wound up being on me. What am I? A clown? I'm here to fucking amuse you?! See it if you get off on slow-mo or if you suffer from insomnia.
James Evans and Johannes Roberts also co-directed the 2001 genre flick "Sanitarium".
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