It’s been a long time since I reviewed something of the horror genre, or even something as deep as this. Our story stars a young woman named Sam Woodhouse (Nicola Correia-Damude) who suffers from an extreme depression as she worries about her father and his disease as he is on the verge of dying. The grieving only gets worse as Sam’s father dies and she stays at her small hometown in Hellmington. While Sam stays, her father mentions the name Katie Owens thus having her take a trip down memory lane as she searches up her old high school and reads an article about Katie who surpisingly went missing. Sam attempts to get some answers from her Uncle Rupert (Michael Ironside) who doesn’t have too many details and expects Sam to focus on her father instead. So she gets as much information as possible from Detective Khan (Gabe Grey) who did the major investigating, and an occult expert named Professor Freeborn (Yannick Bisson) who reads through the strange demonic book she found in the evidence. While the Murdoch of demonic worship jots out an equation centred around the number 9, Sam starts getting Sabrina-style visions just from looking through the book and looking for clues. Further investigation and searching about gets Sam looking in all sorts of places, such as her past, some mysterious symbol that appeared on her hotel room, and Katie’s last boyfriend, a creepy guy named Brad Kovacs (Munro Chambers). Brad explains his side of the story, saying that Kate had some very disturbing interests and that one night she got him to join her after she got a vague letter inviting her to a secluded location, and says he never saw her again the next morning. But as Sam comes closer to unmasking the mystery, she believes Brad was right and gets even more clues that somehow connect in a logical puzzle. Sam speaks to one of Joe’s old colleagues, Claudette Gaudin (Monica Parker), a prison warden. Claudette explains her job as working at the worst prisons ever, watching over one man and then another colleague named Vic (Phil Luzi) who was Katie’s father, started getting jealous and soon an incident sprung up in the cells causing a demonic entity to take over a prisoner. It only gets worse when an ex-con named Anton Buck (James Eddy) attempts to murder her and she shoots him in self-defense. Soon after, she discovers Anton was stalking her, and decides to find Katie’s mother Maggie (Allegra Fulton) to further explain the connection with her husband’s death and daughter’s disappearance. But that only unlocks a strange new issue as Sam’s past comes to attack her and she has to find a way out of this scenario she has somehow gotten into.
One of the most frightening films to focus both on crime, the loss of a loved one (sort of) and demonic entities. Everything seems so out-of-place yet somehow fits together in the strangest of ways. The story is well made but you really have to pay attention to what goes on throughout it. Every character has a story and it’s not just one of those kinds of plots where you try to figure out who’s lying. It’s also one of those kinds of plots where everything has some kind of coincidence that gets firmly fused into some kind of explanation. Then it adds further details near the end making things even more thorough than expected. The characters provide more than story, they also have a good amount of personality, and some of the actors chosen are some personal favourites of mine and most people in Canada. Along with the mixture of genres, there is a mixture in tones, and lighting. By day, things look plain and dreary, but by night it gets more creepy and disturbing. I’ve never really seen a horror film similar to this, it really catches one off-guard right when you expect to understand everything. It’s films like these that make me satisfied I’ve never experienced stuff like that. A true horror element of a true horror film that’s horrific but not in the way you’d expect.
Hellmington will be opening theatrically around Toronto on April 12.