Hellbender (2021). Hellbender: Directed by John Adams, Zelda Adams, Toby Poser. With Zelda Adams, Toby Poser, Lulu Adams, John Adams. A lonely teen discovers her family’s ties to witchcraft.
“Growing up isolated with her mother, a teenager who spends her time playing in a metal band with her or exploring the woods away from others meets a friend where she discovers the real reason behind them living alone together and must race to stop her deadly heritage from engulfing her and her friends.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThere was quite a lot to like with this one. What really works nicely here is the impeccably strong setup that offers quite a fun immersive experience. Since we spend so much time getting an idea of the relationship between the mother and her daughter that becomes far more of a kidnapping/human trafficking experience due to the harshness of the living conditions forced upon her by expressly forbidding any contact with the outside world despite the daughteru0026#39;s objections, this lays an intriguing groundwork for the film to follow. The idea is quite chilling and becomes much more so when the true intent beyond their living condition is presented that offers hints at a deadly family legacy and heritage which is a stark contrast to the rest of the film. With this in place, the filmsu0026#39; shift into the supernatural comes off incredibly well with the friendship that blossoms and how it turns into the revelation involving witchcraft. Knowing the reason why her mother kept her hidden was due to the history of witchcraft involved within the family, including all sorts of dark spells and deadly incantations that have been passed down for generations, adds immensely to the first half of the film with the result taking on a far more sinister connotation with the immersion into teaching the ways of witchcraft. This montage of the two of them going through the motions of learning how to craft trinkets and other ornaments that are useful to their studies while being offset by the flash psychedelic images of witches and other incredibly strange images that are quite disorienting. These aspects, along with the strong supernatural sequences showing the witchcraft taking hold as the spells and powers on display are quite fun and exciting producing some great gore as well, to give the film quite a bit of likable qualities. There isnu0026#39;t much to dislike here but it does have some minor issues. The main drawback is the slightly sluggish pacing which isnu0026#39;t bad at all but could potentially be an issue for some out there. Since the majority of the film alternates between either the mother/daughter relationship out in the woods or the journey to understanding the truth about her witchcraft heritage including the learning of the ingredients to prepare her powers, those expecting more straightforward action and bloodletting might lose interest in the film by the point it gets to that. This is especially true after the exceptionally strong beginning that signals something far darker and more action-packed is going to come but it never does and that can be somewhat disappointing. Some of the other factors involving the weak CGI for their powers arenu0026#39;t that impressive either, but for the most part, it plays into the charm and doesnu0026#39;t hold it back too much.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eRated Unrated/R: Graphic Violence and Graphic Language.”