Five years ago Alice saw her son murdered; now every day is consumed with the need to find his killer. In the sleepy town of Ludlow, the arrival of the mysterious stranger Alice suspects to be the killer of her son coincides with a renewed spate of horrific child murders. Now a weary drunk detective must uncover the truth behind the killings before another child is killed; and Alice must face the unbelievable truth behind the death of her son before insanity, grief and guilt break her mind.
“Hellbreeder” is such a obvious, shameless, pretentious, bat-sh*t crazy rip-off of It (both Tommy Lee Wallace’s movie and Stephen King’s original book) that… it’s actually kind of genius! It really feels refreshing, specially comparing to what else we’ve seem in the matter of rip-offs in the last few years. This is a movie that has no problem in admitting that has stolen it’s villain from another movie and that it’s totally ok with that. James Eaves and Johannes Roberts, the creative minds begins Hellbreeder must have loved Stephen King’s Pennywise, and wanted to do their own movie with our favorite killer clown.
As far as rip-offs go, this one actually tries very hard to make it clear where it’s ideas came from, putting a bunch of references to that other movie, what makes us think that what makers really wanted was to create a spin-off, but without paying a dime to Mr.. King. There are a lot of references to elements of his books (what includes references to the towns of Derry and Gatlin), and you don’t have to stretch your mind much in order to assume that Hellbreeder and It are the same creature. Kinda like making a movie about the last days a blonde depressed Seattle rock musician, and don’t call him Kurt Cobain… or did I go to far in that comparison?
The movie tells the story of Alice (Lyndie Uphill), a tormented woman in search for the serial killer who murdered her son Matthew. With the help of detective Weiss (Dominique Pinon), she has to find out if the killer is human or a supernatural entity. In the process, she gets involved with a mysterious man named Sam (Darren Day) who may or may not be the killer. As a plus, she’s tormented by visions of her family, who blame her for Matthew’s death, and has a dangerous tendency to cutting.
Even though the whole plot (a demon that disguises as a clown in order to attract children, and then eat them) is the same, you have to give a credit to Hellbreeder, since it really tries to make something on it’s own. Hellbreeder certainly is a unique film, for the best or worst, and is miles away from being a conventional plagiarism. But the overuse of the surreal atmosphere (by the middle of the movie, the photography will be giving you headaches) ends up being a downer, since it really doesn’t add up and makes the whole thing look like a film student movie. That isn’t necessarily bad, but it will make a lot of people turn the TV off before the ending.
The storytelling is an absolute mess. The original version of the movie was severely re-cuted for commercial reasons, what explains the dreamy feeling of the narrative, and the overuse of voice-overs and hallucination scenes repeated to death. The attacks of the clown are ludicrous, and the clown itself doesn’t have any lines or even a decent look, what makes him a much less interesting villain than Tim Curry’s Pennywise. The repetition of dialogues doesn’t help, neither does the lack of charisma of the main actress.
But, looking from another point of view, the chaotic script and editing does make the movie look like a nightmare, what can be a good thing if you are more interested in atmosphere than in storytelling. That is not to say that the movie is scary, but there sure is a uncomfortable and distressing feel to it, something that is more than welcome in the genre. It’s also quite short, unlike the “official” It movie, and doesn’t ask much dedication from the viewer. All it wants is to take you into a 80 minutes insane ride, in a crazy tale that could, with no doubts, be told in a different way. Is this a good thing? It really depends on what you find entertaining. But there’s no denial: Hellbreeder is a once in a life ride.