Watch This Powerful Short Film About a Violent Family

Kat Candler's "Hellion" packs a lot of emotion into six minutes.

by Jeffrey Bowers
Sep 4 2015, 7:44pm

I grew up getting in fights with my brother every day. It was just part of life. We are identical twins and were aptly nicknamed the "twin terrors." We'd about everything—I hated the way he ate his cereal, he hated the way I blew my nose. We'd break shit all over the house, knock holes in the walls, tear up the couches, and worse. We knew all the tricks in the book, from setting traps for each other, pretending to get hurt when our parents were within earshot, and knowing everything that could set each other off. Now we're older and closer than ever, but boy is it fun to reminisce about what nightmares we were. That might be why I absolutely love Kat Candler's short film Hellion, which makes those feelings flood back. If you have a brother you will understand exactly what I'm talking about.

Set in Texas, the short focuses on three young hell-raisers who revel in their relatively unfettered ability to cause chaos. Setting fires in their front yard, terrorizing their babysitter, and tormenting each other are all part of their MO. However, whenever their father hears of their antics, he brings the pain home in belt form. The kids are rightly scared of him, but there's clearly a bond between them as a family and especially the brothers. They function within a typical hierarchical system of machismo: oldest to youngest. With no woman in the picture other than their beleaguered babysitter (whom we find duct-taped by the boys to the side of the house), the brothers are free to rage during the day because of their low-income and broken-down household. What's remarkable about the film is Candler's ability to create complex characters despite her film's brief six-minute runtime. The boys and father are familiar, yet surprising too—Candler gives each an opportunity to subvert expectations and make you care for them.

Hellion, the short film, premiered at Sundance and SXSW and other film festivals back in 2012. In 2014, she premiered a feature version of Hellion, starring Aaron Paul at Sundance Film Festival. It's also great and you should check it out.

Jeffrey Bowers is a tall mustached guy from Ohio who's seen too many weird movies. He currently lives in Brooklyn, working as a film curator. He's the senior curator for Vimeo's On Demand platform. He has also programmed at Tribeca Film Festival, Rooftop Films, and the Hamptons International Film Festival.