Thursday, February 11, 2016

Movie Review: The Hollow

Recently added to Netflix, The Hollow (2015) is a creature feature/town overrun movie starring Stephanie Hunt, Sarah Dugdale, and Alisha Newton.

I don't really do a lot of movies reviews, considering how many sites and blogs focus exclusively on such things, but this movie just kind of screamed to me to write one up.

The Hollow is pretty standard SyFy channel fare. Pretty low budget, kind of made to be cheesy.

Except it's not.

Now, in no way am I going to claim this is equal to any mainstream movie. Certainly not equivalent to a big-budget Horror film, or even to the low-budget theater flicks like the Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity.

But this isn't anywhere near the camp of things like Sharknado and the like. The Hollow harkens back to an age where SyFy tried to make legitimate Horror movies, even with low budgets and poor CGI.

SPOILERS start below the picture!

The basic premise is pretty familiar. Girls burned at the stake as witches curse the land with their dying wishes, and now every so several decades or so, on the anniversary of their deaths, a vengeful spirit rises up and slaughters everyone in reach.

Now, I'm not going to fault any story on how old and/or cliched it's plot is. Regardless of the plot, a lot of whether a story does well or does poorly is in the execution. The Hollow, actually, doesn't have a bad execution. I was curious what direction they were going to take in the plot up until the end, whether the girls all die, all survive, or even if they turned out to be related to the women burned as witches all those decades ago. 

Honestly, the main reason I wanted to write a review is to express that I think this could rather easily have been a very good Horror movie. The acting is very good, the monster fairly original, and the plot is pretty well executed despite being almost a cliche at this point.

I want to start with the title. The only thing that makes sense to me is that the title "The Hollow" refers to the fact that the monster burns people out from the inside. I pretty much have to infer that because there's nothing else about a hollow anywhere in the movie. I'm sure with a bit of thought, they could have come up with a better title.

As I said, the monster is pretty original, a golem of branches, vines, and roots, that is permanently burning at its core. It kills though a mix of stabbing people and burning them out from the inside. It's pretty well known that usually in good Horror movies, less is more. "The Hollow" pretty much ruins this by showing you the monster in full right at the beginning. If they had actually kept the majority of the monster off-screen until the final chase/battle it would have raised the suspense dramatically.

The movie also contains multiple sub-plots which could be cut as extra, or expanded upon. The character of the youngest sister especially could have been given more screen time to expand on the themes of her prophetic dreams, her guilt of surviving while watching her parents die, and her moment of change when she stops blaming herself for people dying around her and goes back to save her sister. There is also a subplot created by the monster "saving people for later". Technically, this is just a mechanism to explain why the youngest isn't automatically dead when she runs off, but this could easily have been expanded upon into an actual plot point with a little effort and imagination.

It also might have made it more than just a cliche story to have some of the other characters be more than just cannon fodder between the monster and the MC.

All that considered, "The Hollow" is just an okay movie, but it has just enough under the hood to make you wonder what might have been, in the hands of a better script-writer and director.

~ Shaun

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