Hellbent
You’re telling me this is a gay slasher film?

Theatrical Release Date: 09/16/2005
Director: Paul Etheredge-Ouzts
Cast: Dylan Fergus, Bryan Kirkwood

Slicing its way through the festival circuit and now in limited national release is writer/director Paul Etheredge-Ouzts’ “Hellbent”. One look at the poster doesn’t tell you the whole story here.

While it is a slasher flick, and normally I wouldn’t really take too much notice, here’s the hook: “Hellbent” credits itself (and I can’t dispute it) as the first, GAY slasher film. And it’s about time I say!

For decades, slasher flicks have brought giggles and screams to hetero-audiences everywhere. Now, the other 10% can revel in their own perspective of a deranged killer on the loose. Here is my comparison of how this film stacks up with the hordes of hetero-slasher films where, like deadly sins, there are seven checks to be made before judgment can be reached.

Check One on the slasher formula: In “Hellbent”, a psychotic killer with a penchant for collecting his victims’ heads is running free in West Hollywood. Our hero, Eddie (Dylan Fergus) knows about the killer as he has ties to the police department. He sets out to warn his roommate and friends, all of whom plan to join him at that night’s Halloween carnival. And don’t no one need to remind the gay community to dress to kill on Halloween. (Seriously, who does Halloween better?)

Check Two: Upon disseminating flyers to catch the killer, he stumbles upon Jake, (Bryan Kirkwood), and the romantic interest in the movie is fulfilled. Eddie’s friends are also out at the carnival to get a little action for themselves.

Check Three: The killer never speaks. Not once. He just silently stalks his prey and uses his scythe to remove their pretty little heads with the ease of halving a tomato.

Check Four: The killer generally only kills them just after or during a romantic encounter. To this end, I was actually a little disappointed in that there really is no sex in this film. I’m not offended or all that squeamish about gay-themed sex. In a hetero-slasher, we tend to get a little more action. But as the first film into the genre, trying to reach a nationwide audience, I can understand.

Check Five: The victims invariably do loads of stupid things to help get them killed. If you think you hear someone else in the bathroom, don’t go checking the stalls. If a guy has been stalking you all night, don’t go chasing him down a back alley to see if he’s interested in a little “hide-the-salami”. This films shows that gay people are just as dumb as straight people.

Check Six: While confronting the killer, the good guys are able to knock him out. However, instead of tying him up or continually bashing his skull in with a brick, they leave the room only to be surprised when the killer has gotten up to attack again from another angle.

Check Seven: The ending leaves room for a sequel. This is the penultimate must-have in any good slasher film. Without this aspect, there’s no point. Thank you “Hellbent” for hitting all the marks.

Well, as so scientifically analyzed by myself, the film does everything a slasher film is required to do. The dialogue in the beginning of the film is ridiculously bad but the film’s portrayal of the gay culture isn’t stereotypical or demeaning, it’s pretty close to the truth.

I guess the best compliment to give the film would be to say that if you removed the gay themes, you would still have a decent slasher flick. I was prepared for the worst, especially considering the low production value and slow first half, but the film ratcheted itself up for the final scenes and I had a lot of fun with this one.

If you like the slasher genre, this is worth a look. Anyone not homophobic will be able to get by the romantic and sexual tones in the film. And if it will help you decide, if I could have put a subtitle to the film, theaters everywhere would have to put up on their marquees, “Hellbent : Lick The Eyehole”. Peak your curiosity?

In the tradition of no-surprise slasher flicks, “Hellbent” gets a not-surprising 3 out of 5. Just use the six pack of Old Style to drink every time you see what’s coming during the film.