OK, let’s just get this out of the way at the start. Hellbent is a film from a cable network called Here!, which is America’s foremost gay and lesbian television network. Consequently, this made-for-TV film is based solely around homosexual couples, as is all of the programming on the network. They make all manner of programming, including feature films, that deal primarily with homosexuality.
Now, here is my complaint. If you want to make programming that has homosexuals in it, I’m fine with that. But when the main focus of your programming business is promoting a certain belief or lifestyle, the stories will inevitably suffer. Every part of the film should serve the story. For those who think I am homophobic, I would say the same thing about movies that are made primarily to promote religion, victims rights, heterosexuality or any other number of beliefs. It has nothing to do with the beliefs or lifestyles themselves, it is the fact that promoting an outside belief moves the film from “interesting story” to “propaganda film”.
If you don’t understand or agree with what I am saying, then check out this film for yourself. The plot follows a familiar horror theme. On Halloween night, there is a madman on the loose who is killing young lovers. Only in this film, he is killing young gay lovers. While this twist alone might make for an interesting film, there is so much emphasis put on the fact that everybody is gay that the plot is entirely secondary. The characters don’t just eat in a restaurant, they eat in a gay restaurant. It’s not just a tattoo parlor, it is a gay tattoo parlor. The guys don’t just go to a Halloween carnival, they go to a gay Halloween carnival. The whole thing is exhausting. I just wish they’d shut up and tell the story already.
Viewers are given the option of stereo or Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks. The stereo track is horrible, and the 5.1 track is not much better. To tell you the truth, I’m really not even sure why they bothered with a 5.1 mix at all. There is no audio from the back of the room, and low-end is non-existent. Dialog is pretty muddled, and the score is bad even for how little of it there is. Normally I try to throw in a couple of good points just for balance, but there just isn’t anything noteworthy to say. As with the rest of this disc, the audio track is completely lame.
I was shocked to find that the video quality is actually worse than that of the audio. The colors are all way off in this film, much too warm in one shot, and faded out in the next. Nighttime scenes are entirely too dark, though the disc doesn’t handle blacks very well. The images are grainy and sometimes even a little out of focus. On top of all that, I even spotted several uses of existing stock footage, instead of taking the time to have a second unit shoot establishing shots. This video presentation was really shoddily done.
There are six trailers included on this disc for other Here! films. From the looks of it, they have made a gay romantic comedy, a gay crime drama, a gay film noir… you get the idea. As far as extras that have to do with this movie, there is just one; a featurette. This is really just the electronic press kit for the film, which I assume was aired on the network in the weeks approaching the film’s premiere. This is the typical “let’s ask the actors about the plot” piece that all movies do these days, and predictably, there is nothing noteworthy included. There is goes, my last chance to say something nice about this disc.
Even if you can somehow ignore all the heavy-handed agenda-pushing, this is just not a very good movie. The plot is supremely predictable, the scares can be seen coming a mile away and the acting is amateur at best. When you throw horrible audio and video quality into the mix, this becomes a disc that even the Queer Eye guys would pass on. This is not trashy in a fun kind of way, this is trashy in an embarrassing kind of way.