Hellbent once again proves that people can do dumb things and place themselves in danger, but I guess that's the point of movies such as this. Although cheaply made with lots of cheesy dialogue and a second act that is made up mostly of a lot of suspenseful cruising and running around in alleyways, Hellbent is surprising good - mostly because the film achieves in building tension and features some of the best eye candy. In short, the guys are hot!
Two young gay guys are found brutally murdered in a park before Halloween in West Hollywood with their heads sliced right off. Eddie - whom works for the West Hollywood Police Dept. sees the crime scene photos - but that doesn't stop him from taking his best friends Joey, Chaz and Tobey out to the park on the eve of the Hollywood Halloween festival. Drunk, the boys hop out to relieve themselves in the bushes, when they encounter the psycho.
After thinking that he's out to cruise them, they start tempting him, after all, he's towering and totally buff, but little do they know that he's also a masked killer, a cross between Batman and the grim reaper who likes to chop off cute guys' heads and keep them as souvenirs. All evening, he stalks the guys through the festival from a gay club called Meat to the main drag of Santa Monica Boulevard, where the extravagant, tightly populated annual Street Carnival takes place.
It's pretty easy for this psycho to blend in - everyone is dressed up in colorful costumes - and any random psycho can easily pick his victims off whenever the chance arises and As the murderer begins his rampage, the boys one by one become the lambs to the slaughter. Whilst his friends are being murdered, Eddie pursues Jake, a muscled hunk whom he met that day in the local tattoo parlor. But will our heroes Eddie and Jake actually survive the night or just become victims of this scythe-wielding psycho?
Writer-director Paul Etheredge-Ouzts bathes his story in a type of sickish humor. The killings are all executed with above-average flair, and it's clear that when the twitch of a headless corpse gets the movie's biggest laugh, it's clear that Etheredge-Ouzts knows what he's doing. Ironically though, we really begin to care for these characters as they begin to meet their untimely deaths.
One of the best attributes of Hellbent is that it keeps things plain and simple, but it can also be frustrating because we never get to know what exactly motivates the killer. In other words, the greatest asset of Hellbent is that it never tries to be anything that it's not. In addition there's a few ingenious touches involving a strobe light and an eyeball, as well as a tension-filled climax, which make the film instinctively watchable. And as a slasher film with a gay twist it's a great addition to the genre. Mike Leonard September 06.