Writer-director Kat Candler digs deep in this tale of boyhood and manhood, drawing emotional performances from Aaron Paul and newcomer Josh Wiggins. Wiggins plays Jacob, a 13-year-old whose casual vandalism lands him in trouble with the authorities with little guidance from his father Hollis (played by Paul), still nursing grief from his wife's death. After one incident, Jacob's misbehavior ends up with his 10-year-old brother Wes (Deke Garner) getting hauled off by Child Protective Services and placed in the care of the boys' aunt, Pam (Juliette Lewis). Hollis and Jacob try to straighten up, but tensions boil over and events spiral out of control. (When a gun is introduced fairly early on, you know it's going to make an unwelcome return.) Candler's script speaks the language of teen boys, and she pulls together a strong cast of young actors, led by Wiggins' intense portrayal of a boy learning to grow up in a hurry.
Sean P. Means
"Hellion" screens again at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival: Tuesday at 12:15 at the Eccles Theatre, Park City; and Friday at 5:30 p.m. at the Library Center Theatre, Park City.