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HellBent (2004)

DVD Cover (here! Films)
Genres / Traits:
Gay & Lesbian Films, Horror, Sex Horror, Slasher Film, Halloween
Director:
Paul Etheredge Paul Etheredge
Starring:
Dylan Fergus Dylan Fergus
Bryan Kirkwood Bryan Kirkwood
Hank Harris Hank Harris
Andrew Levitas Andrew Levitas
Matt Phillips Matt Phillips

5.5 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: October 15, 2006
Seeing as how I am a proactive homosexual, one would think that I would be thrilled with the idea of 'gay horror' in cinema. Over the past decade, gay cinema has been making giant leaps through increased theatrical distribution, increased DVD sales, and increased interest in gay-themed scripts. "Brokeback Mountain", as overrated and mainstream as it was, has helped expose gay film to even larger audiences, and now the demand is larger than ever. A couple of weeks ago I reviewed a slapstick comedy called "Another Gay Movie" and made many of the same observations I would likely make in this review, but I am going to try not to repeat myself. "Hellbent" is a film I wanted to see in theatres, strictly because I was fascinated with the idea of a 'gay horror film'. Attached to the film was one of the producers of "A Nightmare On Elm Street" and "Halloween II", so it had to be quality, right? Before I start the review, let me explain how badly it irritated me to have a genre called 'gay horror' introduced into the pop culture lexicon. Why do we have to sub-categorize a genre? Why can't we just have a genre called 'horror'? Why do we need a genre called 'gay horror'? How do homosexuals expect to be treated equally when all they do is find ways to separate themselves from the rest of the population. "Hellbent" offers no answers. None at all.

In true slasher flick tradition, "Hellbent" opens with a grizzly murder as two adventurous gay men are decapitated in their vehicle. We then meet Eddie (Dylan Fergus). We first think he's a cop, but then realize he's a wannabe who couldn't pass the test because he has a glass eyeball. The film centers around Eddie and his three gay friends as they attend an annual Halloween bash. Joey (Hank Harris) is dressed as a sadomasochist and really wants to hook up with a cute jock. Chaz (Andrew Levitas) is dressed as a cowboy and wants to do as much ecstasy as possible before the sun rises. And, Tobey (Matt Phillips) is a semi-famous model who decides to dress in drag to see if people care more about his outward appearance than his inner beauty. Sounds like a perfect Halloween bash, right? Wrong. Introduce a psychotic killer dressed as Satan - the same psychotic killer than took out the two sexually active lads in the opening scene. Throughout the night, he picks off the friends, one-by-one, for seemingly no good reason whatsoever. Though this is billed as the 'first gay horror film', it should really be billed as 'the first gay rip-off of "Scream" and other related films'. "Hellbent" has the formulas and the ideas down to a science, but it's missing one thing - something new and original.

If you're going to tout yourself as a new genre or sub-genre, you had better bring something to the plate other than a hook for a murder weapon and a pirate patch. Though the film manages to avoid outright camp, it's difficult to take the film seriously. I am gay and I had a hard time keeping a straight face at some points; imagine how the straight population is going to react to the film. "Hellbent" had some nice visuals and the death scenes were staged rather well, but in the end - were they any better than death scenes from the original "Friday the 13th" or "Halloween"? Absolutely not. The best death scene is the opening death scene, and it sets such a high standard that all the rest seems to pale in comparison. With "A Nightmare On Elm Street", however, we start off with the kick ass Tina death scene, then we're given the kick ass jail house death scene, and then Wes Craven tops that off with Johnny Depp getting sucked into the bed. "Hellbent" has nowhere to go but staying the same. "Hellbent" is just an unfortunate case of an idea that seemed revolutionary, but turned out to be just another poor attempt as horror. Oh, and while we're on that - this is as close to a horror film as "Edge of Seventeen" was. This is a thriller. Hands down. People need to stop confusing the two genres.

As with any slasher flick, you're not looking for Oscar caliber performances, especially when it's targeting a specific demographic like this and funding is minimal. Dylan Fergus is worth the price of admission alone as Eddie, but I don't mean by his acting skills, though I suppose he's not terrible. He is one gorgeous man and I couldn't take my eyes off him whenever he was on screen. Most of the other actors hold their own in the film and there are no obvious hacks, but I expected at least one moderately recognizable face to pop up somewhere. No Jeff Fahey. No Brian Bosworth. No Chuck Norris. Couldn't they have found at least one D-list actor to cameo somewhere in the film? Hell, I bet they could have gotten Boy George to sing a couple of songs or something. In closing, "Hellbent" is nothing you haven't seen before. So what if the main characters are homosexual? Does that really matter? Goes to show - no matter what your sexual orientation - the horror well is all dried up. Hopefully, it won't stay that way.

5/10.
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