11th Feb2021

‘Hellkat’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Sarah T. Cohen, Ryan Davies, Adrian Bouchet, Abi Casson Thompson, Frances Katz, Ricardo Freitas, Vaani K Sharma, Michael Hoad, Serhat Metin, Harvey McDonald | Written by Michele Pacitti | Directed by Scott Jeffery, Rebecca Matthews

We’ve covered quite a few films from UK production outfit Proportion Productions, who have become almost factory-like in their film output in recent years; and, once again, I’m going to sound like a broken record as I extol the virtues of the company… No, I don’t get paid to review their films and no, they don’t have any influence over what we say about their films her on Nerdly. But there’s something that has struck a a chord with me in each and every one of their films I’ve seen – from the Unhinged remake (a sequel to which is promised on the companies website), House on Elm Lake, Curse of the Scarecrow, The Mummy Reborn, Cupid, and more recently the excellent Don’t Speak and Candy Witch.

All of which were fantastic examples of traditional horror filmmaking. However their latest, Hellkat, is much less traditional. Part horror, part martial arts film, the film also looks like one of Proportion Productions’ lowest budgeted productions in a while – taking place on two “sets” with a small cast that can almost be counted one hand.

This time round Proportion Productions’ Scott Jeffery and Rebecca Matthews are joined on the writing side by Michele Pacitti, someone who won’t be familar to many but is credited a co-writer on Jurassic Dead (aka Zombiesaurus) and the fantastic Monster Force Zero. Which is probably why Hellkat feels different to the companies previous output – there’s something more gritty, more grindhouse, about this film. This harkens back to more exploitative filmmaking rather than the slicker more US-influenced films Proportion put out the last couple of years. But that’s not a bad thing.

Hellkat tells the story of downtrodden MMA fighter Katrina ‘HellKat’ Bash (played by Sarah T. Cohen – who also starred in Proportion’s films Witches of Amityville and Cupid), who’s having a really bad day. She’s lost her last fight and on the way home her car breaks down… So far so unlucky. Then she’s offered a lift by Jimmy (Ryan Davies) who she ends up “killing.” Only he can’t die, he’s a demon and Katrina ends up in purgatory for her actions – a bar in the middle of nowhere which is also hiding a secret fight club. A fight club where the participants are fighting for their lives. Literally.

As someone who likes both horror AND action movies, Hellkat fits the bill perfectly – blending the hardcore style of MMA with the grotesqueries of horror to create a film that is reminiscent of Mortal Kombat; only in this case its someone merely (though there’s nothing “mere” about the battles here) fighting for their own soul or in the case of Katrina, her AND her sons souls. Thankfully the fight scenes are handled by stunt performer Michael Hoad (Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker, The Old Guard), who takes the directorial reigns for this part of the film; leaving the drama – and horror – for Jeffery and Matthews.

Speaking of horror, Hellkat features not only some great practical effects and monster make-up (a particular highlight of the film IMHO) but it also, surprisingly, takes a rather surreal slant, both in terms of production and thematically: a wry look at what it means to be human. It’s an angle which adds a rather unsettling aspect to the films story too. For a long time we, the audience, suspect somethings wrong, the surreal nature of the bar and its patrons feeling very “off” but it isn’t until Katrina finally heads outside the bar (she cleans the bathrooms to both pay her bar bill AND bed down for the night) and sees TWO moons in the sky, that our fears, our suspicions are confirmed…

At which time the action moves, literally, into the arena and the training rooms around it. Yet, despite the shift in tone from horror to action, the surreal nature of the film still stands, approaching Lynchian proportions (pardon the pun) at times; making Hellkat feel nothing like the rest of Proportion Productions oeuvre – which, as a fan and follower of their output, is only a good thing!

Hellkat is out now on DVD and Digital from Uncork’d Entertainment.

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