Shudder, AMC Networks’ premium streaming service for horror, thriller and the supernatural, has snagged the occult horror pic, “Hellbender” prior to its Aug. 14 world premiere at the 25th Fantasia Intl. Film Festival.
“Hellbender” is written and directed by Toby Poser, John Adams and their daughter Zelda Adams who also star in the film along with their other family member, Lulu Adams.
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Said Craig Engler, general manager of Shudder, “We are thrilled to bring this family-focused folk nightmare to Shudder with such a talented actual family in front of and behind the camera. With ‘Hellbender,’ Wonder Wheel Productions has made their most polished feature yet, and we know our audience will delight in the film’s shocking visuals and scares.”
“Teaming up with Shudder was at the top of our bloody bucket list. They’re the pinnacle of beautiful horror, and to be a part of that is beyond thrilling for our family,” concurred Poser, John and Zelda Adams.
“Hellbender” is the sixth feature from Wonder Wheel Productions, the production company founded by Poser, Adams and their daughters. They also produced the music for the pic with tracks from their experimental punk band, H6LLB6ND6R. The filmmakers, who collaborate on every facet of their films, have also explored family drama and crime aside from horror.
“Hellbender” turns on 16-year-old Izzy (Zelda Adams) who has a rare illness that has kept her sequestered all her life on a remote mountaintop with her mother (Poser). As she begins to question her malaise, she strikes out against her confinement and secretly befriends Amber (Lulu Adams), another teen living on the mountain. But her newfound happiness is upended after she eats a live worm as part of a game and is overcome by an insatiable and violent hunger. To understand the hunger, Izzy must unearth the dark secrets of her family’s past and the ancient forces coursing in her bloodline.
“Hellbender” will vie for the big prize at Fantasia ‘s Cheval Noir competition, making it the second time the Adams have participated in Fantasia. In 2019, they screened their award-winning “The Deeper You Dig” at the festival, which Zelda, not yet 18, was too young to watch herself.
The acquisition pact was put together by Emily Gotto and Samuel Zimmerman on behalf of Shudder and Hugues Barbier, Justin Timms, and Joe Yanick of Yellow Veil Pictures on behalf of the filmmakers.
“’Hellbender’ is an absolute stunner. I am obsessed with every frame and couldn’t be more excited to partner with Shudder for the release of such an ambitious and unique movie,” said Yellow Veil’s Timms.
Shudder will start streaming the film in North America, the U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand in early 2022.
Fantasia kicks off Aug. 5 as a hybrid event with in-person screenings in Montreal, Quebec and the virtual slate geo-locked to Canada.
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