When motocross and heavy metal obsessed thirteen-year-old Jacob's increasing delinquent behavior forces CPS to place his little brother, Wes, with his aunt, Jacob and his emotionally absent...
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When motocross and heavy metal obsessed thirteen-year-old Jacob's increasing delinquent behavior forces CPS to place his little brother, Wes, with his aunt, Jacob and his emotionally absent father, Hollis, must finally take responsibility for their actions and for each other in order to bring Wes home. Written by
A powerful story of fathers, sons and the loss of innocence.
I decided a few months in advance that I wanted to attend Sundance 2014 with some friends; something I'd been meaning to do for years. Imagine my surprise when I looked over the festival program and saw 'Hellion', directed by Kat Candler -- a faculty member at The University of Texas, my alma mater. I'd known a bit about the development of the film through the school, and that it had been a short film previously, and so I committed to seeing it at the fest. Even more surprising when I got in line for tickets, the film was sold out!
Around Sundance, there was lots of buzz about 'Hellion' and its breakout performances (Josh Wiggins as a child actor, and Aaron Paul in a starring independent feature film role). Impressed by the hype from a film whose director we sort of 'knew', my friends and I all decided to leave other screenings early to waitlist the film. When the waitlist opened, the waitlist tickets were gone within SECONDS. One of my group was lucky enough to snag the first spot in the waitlist by chance, and so he gratefully surrendered his ticket to me as the rest of the group huddled outside in the Utah cold. The film was THAT big of a deal.
I made my way into the theater in Park City and sat front row, a few seats down from Candler and the producers, eager to see if the film lived up to the hype. The doors to the theater closed, the lights dimmed, and the film rolled.
The film was incredible. Not only did it live up to the hype, it far surpassed it. I was floored by the deft direction and approach to adolescent volatility. I knew through UT that Candler was talented, but was genuinely shocked by the writing, direction, creative use of production values and (perhaps most importantly) the story.
'Hellion' was a monumental film that everyone in my group at Sundance was itching to see -- and one that even more were eager to praise. I think films about fathers, sons, and brotherhood really strike a chord in modern parlance, and this fired on all cylinders in that regard.
Although I admittedly wasn't the hugest fan of the original short film (heavy metal has never been my favorite of music, so I'm a little biased) I think that the expansion to the longer-form feature was really what the concept deserved; and Candler capitalizes spectacularly on this medium.
The result is an immensely entertaining, meaningful piece that really connected these common threads of truth in troubled family relationships. As a former University of Texas student, I was very proud to have seen the film at Sundance, and hope the future holds even greater successes for Candler and her producers.
'Hellion' is everything you hope for from an independent film and more. It's thoroughly entertaining, evenly-paced, and manages to develop a strong message by the time its final frame hits the screen. Seeing 'Hellion' was a meaningful experience, and one I will not soon forget.
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