Fantasia 2021 Capsule Review: Hellbender

Fantasia International Film Festival becomes a family affair with Hellbender. This film is an Adams family production and is written and directed by three members of the family, John Adams (The Deeper You Dig, Halfway to Zen), Zelda Adams (making her feature-film debut as writer/director), and Toby Poser (The Deeper You Dig, Halfway to Zen) with both women also starring in the film. Hellbender tells the story of a teen living isolated in the woods with her mother. When she discovers the true reason her mother keeps her separated from other people, it sends her on a dark and twisted journey of self-discovery.

The Adams family really does a wonderful job of creating their own unique mythos with Hellbender, specifically around the idea of witches and witchcraft. On top of that, the film is a wonderful character study about the relationships between mothers and daughters and how that relationship changes over time. Zelda Adams is great as Izzy and Toby Poser delivers a strong performance as Mother. On top of an interesting story, the film weaves a rockin’ soundtrack throughout the story. While at times the effects come across as a bit cheesy, overall the visuals are quite striking and distinctive.

Hellbender casts a spell with an edgy, rock ‘n’ roll take on witchcraft, motherhood, and being a teen.


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