Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Movie Review–Hollow

And so here's more proof that I'm a sucker for the old found footage genre. About 4 minutes after I posted my review of "Grave Encounters 2," I was back on my couch firing up another one.

"Hollow" is a movie that I'd been looking forward to for a while; I saw its trailer last year and was intrigued by the fact that it featured a spooky looking tree. I'm pretty sure that anyone who grew up in the woods like I did understands what I'm saying here... some trees just look evil.

The movie is about two pairs of friends—one about to be married, and one not quite yet a couple. They get together to head up for a relaxing weekend in a remote village in the rural England countryside... of particular note is the fact that the village they go to visit is Dunwich. Of course, this is the real-world Dunwich in England, so there's not any Yog-Sothothery going on here, but the movie DOES have a pretty creepy Lovecraft vibe to it. Actually, strike that... it's got more of an Algernon Blackwood vibe, or maybe an Arthur Machen vibe. Whatever vibe it's got... it's a good one.

Anyway, the couple heads up to this house in rural England for a relaxing weekend, and since this is a found footage horror movie, things are anything but relaxing. And while the last 10 minutes of the movie are pretty intense, it's also another one that does the slow burn. You see, one of these four people has some psychological damage, and the movie doesn't really come out and explain it via dialogue. Instead, you see it in the way this character films things with his camera, how he obsesses on a fly trapped against a window, or becomes so interested in the weird nooks and crannies in an old ruined monastery, or sneaks around in the house after dark filming the woman he'd rather be up here with, but who is instead here with her fiance.

Did I mention there's a creepy evil looking tree in a field nearby? A tree that seems to have an unusual number of suicides involved with young lovers who hang themselves from its gnarly, twisted branches? A tree that some local legends say is a place where, if you hang yourself there, the ghost of a monk who served in the nearby monastery will give you absolution so that you'll still go to heaven, but which some other local legends say that the "monk" is not a monk at all, and those who end up hanging in the boughs are hardly suicides?

Or that there's rusty chains wrapped around the tree trunk?
See? Evil.

Aside from a little bit of gore, there's really no special effects in the movie. It's very understated and deliberate in its pacing, and when it's over, it leaves a lot of what actually happened up to interpretation. But the atmosphere of tension and dread that it builds as it goes makes it all quite worth it... especially if you look at it through the eyes of Arthur Machen, Algernon Blackwood, or Lovecraft.

  • ... is very much a minimalist horror movie. Don't check it out if you're expecting big special effects scenes, spooky music, or anything like that. But if you like found footage movies and think the Wicker Man's a great movie and don't require answers to all your questions, you can do a lot worse.
  • ... is one of the few found footage movies I've seen that concedes that video cameras run on batteries, and even better, makes the draining battery on that camera into a plot point.
  • ... will have you straining to see if there's something in the shadows of the footage while simultaneously trying not to stare too hard just in case there's a jump cut or a jump scare about to strike.
  • ... incorporates a pretty creepy and classic urban legend into the plot.
  • ... gets creepier the more I think about it.
Grade: B+

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