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You have to respect a werewolf horror that tries to do something different, but is the newly released “Hellhounds” a howling success?

Hellhounds landed on digital on January 9, 2024. Read on to find out if you should rent, stream, or skip it. 

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Hellhounds is a film from writer-director Robert Conway (Skinwalker, Krampus Unleashed) that pits the titular beasts against an equally bloodthirsty group called the ‘Silver Bullets’ who have been locked in a battle for ages. Thrown into this mix is a Bounty Hunter who has her own need for revenge as she hunts for a serial killer who loves to kidnap and torture and is somehow linked to the battle taking place.

Our setting: a trailer park in the middle of nowhere where various miscreants and people not wanting to be found live out their lives.

We are introduced to the mysterious Dave Carroll (aka DC, played by Daniel Link) as he hauls another unfortunate from the interstate.

Kevin (Cameron Kotecki) suffers from a strange wound and is being tended to by Virginia, who runs into the new-in-town Lucella (Eva Hamilton). Both will discover that this is no simple chance encounter.

Hellhounds

Elsewhere, Mia (Dana Kippel) tracks leads that point to the dangerous and deadly DC. Along the way, she finds Alias (Nathaniel Burns), who has his own reasons for wanting to find DC.

It seems to take an age to get going; the differing threads of the mysterious kidnapper, Kevin and Lucella, and Alias and Mia all need a decent amount of time to seed with the viewer. Having the screentime bounce between each thread means each part has to strike hard, and they are partially successful with that.

The standout, Lucella, is just this ball of fire, moving between coy and demure to over-the-top sexuality and Brutality. Her scenes elevate those around her, and she looks as though she is enjoying it, too.

The promised conflict between the Hounds and Silver Bullets is practically non-existent as the events in the film have come about in the aftermath of what has been called the final battle.

This is probably a good thing in some respects, as I don’t think the budget would have stretched to a decent depiction of a war between the two sides.

Once the threads come together, the actual resolution is handled very quickly. There isn’t a knock-down drag-out fight as I expected, and they also play a bit loose with the effects of silver on a Lycanthrope, but that is another story.

I did enjoy the journey that Lucella takes Kevin on as she tries to get that inner beast unleashed as a means of control and to start a new pack.

Effects are kept to practical ones where possible, and the transformations are shown via CGI but, again, via quick cuts, which isn’t necessarily bad. Blood does spatter, and there are some gnarly moments involving Alias and a set of pliers as he does some personal surgery on himself.

Look out for when Lucella gives Kevin a heart; it’s not hers, but the thought is there.

If you are going to tackle werewolves, you have to hit the ground running, and HELLHOUNDS opts instead for a slower and more measured approach.

I appreciate when there is an attempt to try new directions. Taking from popular culture and using biker gangs helps in hiding budgetary restraints, which is wise, especially when it comes to handling the necessary transformation that these films live or die by.

The shadows formed by the titans of the subgenre, like An American Werewolf in London and The Howling, loom large.

The actual physical makeup is pretty good, considering, but it’s for the best that the camera doesn’t linger too long.

Hellhounds is not groundbreaking by any means, but then, it isn’t actually trying to be. The acting is decent, with Hamilton’s Lucella rising head and shoulders above her castmates to be the film’s MVP. She owns every scene she is in, and that is worth the view alone.

What Hellhounds promises and mostly delivers is a reasonably fun watch that keeps you entertained for roughly 80 minutes (kudos to the filmmakers for keeping the runtime lean) and doesn’t expect you to think much about it after the credits roll. 

RENT IT, STREAM IT, OR SKIP IT?
STREAM IT. It’s not a bad film; it’s just a bit forgettable. Hellhounds looks pretty good, and the filmmakers wisely understand their budget limitations and play to their strengths. I appreciate how well they tried to cleverly sidestep many of the inherent challenges of making a film of this nature with such limited resources. It’s certainly worth watching Eva Hamilton’s performance alone, but you may want to wait until you can stream it for free.

Overall Rating (Out of 5 Butterflies): 3

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