Dir. John Adams, Zelda Adams and Toby Poser
Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield
HELLBENDER is a crazy, no holds barred whirlwind of indie horror that blends the hallucinogenic madness of ENTER THE VOID with the backwood horror of THE EVIL DEAD via the musical influences from LORDS OF CHAOS and there's something refreshingly simple about a mother/daughter bonding session in the horror genre.
A teen and her mother live simply in a home in the woods, spending their time making metal music. A chance encounter with a fellow teen causes her to uncover a connection between her family and witchcraft, which causes a rift with her mother.
It's this extremely relatable relationship that carries the film to it's disturbing shock ending and as such keeps the halucinogenic dreams grounded. Both Zelda Adams as Izzy and Toby Poser as her mother really drive the film forward, one with the naivety of youth and the other ith a constant steer of experience that leaves the closing moments both shocking and emotional. Despite the films free spirit, there are boundaries between right and wrong and the script never strays too far from the right path.
As a collective effort between it's leads acting as stars, writers and directors alongside John Adams is a truly creative, if restricted, indie horror that blends horror tropes with a fresh lens and one that, like it's stars, feels familiar yet new.
HELLBENDER suffers from a limited budget and a sense of "seen-it-all-before" which is unfortunate but not a wasted attempt of building a bridge between witchcraft and hallucinogenics.