Hellion is an attempt by director Kat Candler to make some sort of social commentary on the breakdown of American family life alongside the ever growing problem of gun crime and the frustration teenagers feel about the society and lifestyle they are expected to grow up in. Starring Aaron Paul who impresses with a new maturity, in his first major outing since the ‘Breaking Bad’ phenomenon swept the globe, as Hollis a single father who has lost his wife and is struggling to hold his life together as his teenage son Jacob is already well on the road to juvenile delinquency whilst his younger son Wes is likely to travel the same route unless someone intervenes.
Juliette Lewis makes an unlikely appearance as Pam the boys aunt and angel of mercy who, after the Child Protection Services step in, offers her services as a benefactor to the younger boy offering a more stable and comfortable environment for him to grow up in to prevent him from going off the rails.
Naturally this does not go down well with Hollis who seethes with resentment which transfers to Jacob who already is emotionally confused at the environment he inhabits. A particularly worrying scene occurs when a group of adults are toying with a gun and one insists that Jacob hold it just to get a feel of what it is like whilst all the while describing this as one of those ‘precious moments’ between a father and son. Although Hollis protests at first he doesn’t put up much of a fight, his resolve weakened by his excessive drinking, and Jacob proceeds with handling the gun and at this juncture you are aware that tragedy lies ahead.
Although Hellion makes a valid attempt at uncovering problems in American society and meanwhile also offers a glimpse at the frustration and miscomprehension of its teenage population, as the adults who are supposed to be directing their moral compass cannot even follow their own, it offers nothing new to the situation which hasn’t been said in a hundred other movies. The three central roles are handled with great skill- Josh Wiggins and Deke Garner as the young boys are exemplary- as is Juliette Lewis who brings credibility to her role it is just the script lacks any originality and fails to engage because of this. It is too well worn a story and to make it rise above the pack it needed a twist in the plot or traits in its characters which it just doesn’t possess.