The Hollow wants very much to be like one of the classic horror movies such as: Halloween, Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street. It wants it so bad that even the audience can taste it, and it tastes awful. – 1.75/5
I didn’t go into The Hollow with very high expectations, and it did not disappoint. So how would I describe The Hollow; fog, forests, and finger painting. Okay not really finger painting so much as writing on fogged over windows, and by that I mean jump scares, but that’s not nearly as catchy. This movie relies entirely on classic jump scares to keep the audience’s attention, but does everything but say “hey, big scare coming up” before one happens. I will admit there were one or two that caught me by surprise, and while not really scary they did slip by me.
Three sisters, who have lost their parents, are on their way to Shelter Island to stay with their aunt Cora because their out of money and have no where else to go. The youngest is mentally scarred by seeing their parents death, and now has precognitive abilities through dreams. The island is supposedly cursed, and whenever a storm happens on Halloween most of the population die, or so the legend goes. That sums up the entire premise of the movie without giving too much away, not that there’s anything really to give away.
The intro with aunt Cora and her dog sets the tone for the entire affair. Her dog breathes heavily on the back window of her car as it barks incessantly, something that aunt Cora is severely upset about, and we see random writing in it, with the number “5” being the most obvious. Then the dog dives through the glass, nose first mind you, shattering it with ease and runs off into the woods. Aunt Cora follows and we see the “monster” of Shelter island.
The Hollow makes no bones about what it is; a straight up type A (that is to say monster kills, people run) horror movie. It gets that out in the open right away, as we see the big bad within the first 5 minutes or so. Of course, I didn’t know going in that this was a SyFy movie made for Halloween, which explained the weird T.V. show like cutaways that kept happening, as well as the overuse of special effects.
Sarah (Stephanie Hunt), Marley (Sarah Dugdale) and Emma (Alisha Newton) are the three sisters that travel to Shelter Island despite repeated warnings not to. The believability of these characters is next to zero, as their personalities and roles within the family dynamic are so fluid they could almost be completely interchangeable. One minute Sarah says they have to push on to get to the island before the storm, even after captain creepy (Seth) warns her not to, then she doesn’t want to be there anymore despite no evidence that anything is wrong. The town is buckled down for a storm, that’s not really that odd. Marley is the brave rebel, she’s the scarred but stoic hero, she is too weak to help herself and has to have Sarah to fall back on; she’s all these things over the span of 10 minutes of movie time.Marley proves to be pretty annoying too as she is captain obvious, who honestly would have been a better character than any of those found in this movie, pointing out every little detail no matter how blatantly obvious it is. I’m pretty sure some group of friends were passing around the script, adding to it as they went like a game of telephone, and getting drunk while doing it. There is no cohesiveness in the characters to hold on to. Even the side characters change in personality from minute to minute. The only stable character, until the very end, is Emma the traumatized and mostly unconscious and off screen character. Up until the last 30 seconds of the movie she remains completely within her character logic, not that this helped the movie in anyway since that meant she spent most of the time off screen.
The acting is of pretty low caliber as well, which is disappointing since Richard Harmon plays Seth, and anyone whose seen The 100 or Continuum knows that he is a good actor. This leads me to believe that maybe these people (the primaries) are good actors just doing the best they can with bad dialogue.
What you’ll find in The Hollow aside from the Hollow, is pretty typical horror fare. There’s a big scary monster seeking revenge, it chases some folks around in a nonsensical fashion and the most common dialogue is the repeating of someone’s name. I’m pretty certain the most spoken word in the entire move is Emma, as it must have been called out no less than 50 times in a single scene (maybe that’s an exaggeration but not by much). There are some redeeming factors, like the fact that every time they encounter a body, even the 20th one in a row, they still scream and freak out. It would be like everyone in The Walking Dead running in circles screaming every time a zombie came into view, a rather humorous prospect.
While there isn’t anything special about it, I can’t really fault the director on choices in shots and angles. There really isn’t anything new to be done with such a mundane and played out story with cardboard cutout characters. The special effects are actually rather good, something SyFy has gotten good at even with low budgets, but this hardly distracts from all the other flaws. Really this just reinforces my belief that many movies are made around the special effects, starting there and generating some piecemeal story to fit it.
There’s no big build up to anything as the action starts right away and persists in the most bland and plodding way possible. The characters make absolutely ridiculous choices (typical of horror films) like not running from the strange rustling in the woods, or opening the door where the monster has been trapped for no conceivable reason. And yes they knew it was in there, and even after it sees them instead of just sealing it in and calling it a day they lure it out. Wait, what? Why? Honestly, at 30 minutes left in the movie all I could think was “There’s 30 minutes left in this movie? What else could possible happen?”. It’s a perfectly valid question since essentially nothing did happen, it was all just filler to make the movie longer. How it would end was essentially paraded about the screen for the entirety of the eternity that was the last half hour. At the very end Emma breaks from her character set, the sudden enlightenment of the hero that usually happens in these movies, and delivers a poignant line before the monster is vanquished. Weirdly enough, there was no indication she would be the “hero”, or how she know how to “kill” the monster. It just simply happens because there’s less than a minute left in the film.
Honestly, the best part of this movie is at 1:24:30, when the credits roll, all 15 seconds of them.
Overall, The Hollow is exactly what I would expect from a SyFy made for T.V. movie, and had I known that going in I would have lowered my expectations even more. I will give credit to the actors for trying their hardest to do something with what was given them, but they really had no where to go. If you’re looking for something to kill time with (say on a flight) or it’s Halloween and you want a horror movie playing the background then give The Hollow a go. Otherwise, I’d pass on this one.
Overall: 1.75/5* (genre specific)
*If you’d like to see the subcategories that make up each score let me know in the comments and I’ll add them.