Featured Free Gay Movie: Hellbent


Watch Hellbent. on Amazon. [#CommissionsEarned] The film gets 4.5 stars from viewers there and 5.6 from IMDb.

Last night, Paul Etheredge’s unexpected gay slasher film easily entered my Notes on personal gay canon list over on Letterboxd and might even rank as one of my all-time favs. More than the convincing if prosaic depiction of gay nightlife on Halloween, replete with a leather shop, sex and drugs in toilets, and the straight, fag-stag buddy who’s all in for whatever his gays are up for, Hellbent impressed me with its resourceful and creative shots — low-angles, Dutch angles, color-filtered lighting, Texas switches — and most of all, its rapid montage-favoring, often elliptical editing.

Replay the final confrontation with the musclebound, scythe-wielding killer; the average shot length is no doubt only a couple seconds. Yet, along with the previously mentioned resourceful shooting, it exponentially manufactures tension within the film’s low-budget constraints. I had to check the date a couple times to remind myself this film was made in the Aughts, because it sure looked and felt like a horror film from the Freddy-inspired 80s, in the best way.

Similarly, the disorienting editing patterns on display when the fag stag gets slashed on a disco dancefloor by the killer, who moves in and out of the crowd like a swole shadow, look like a young Stan Brakhage could have cut them. The film shows off some convincing blood-effects also, with dark red, viscous liquid slathered on a lean torso and cut abs or pouring out of a severed neck.

The most famous actor onboard is Hank Harris, playing a smooth, jejune twink bound in lock and chains and with the hots for a slightly older, bearded dude in jock drag. Otherwise, if there are any well-known actors, I missed them. Since Hellbent came out, director Etheredge has done more as an art director than as anything else. I would have thought he would have done more writing; the dialogue between temporary couples in Hellbent reminds me of the best work from Chucho E. Quintero.

However these filmmakers ended up, Hellbent is long past due for, if not a sequel — we never find out who or what the killer really was — at least a deserved reappraisal.

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