Set in a remote area of Suffolk, Hollow opens with video from a police report on a mass murder, flashing back to tell the tale of what happened on a weekend away gone horribly wrong for an unwitting foursome.
Hollow is a found footage film. And before you yell in outrage, close down your browser in disgust and go off to watch The Shining for the 7 millionth time, let me tell you that Hollow is also actually, surprisingly, pretty good.
As a genre, found footage has forced me into many varied and spectacular rants (Asylum Tapes anyone?) and thus I am more critical of it than any other horror genre, given the amount of awful terrible unwatchable crap I have been forced to watch just so you, our beloved readers, wont have to.
That said, we all know that it can work in rare cases, such as Troll Hunter and Lake Mungo. But those films are few and far between with a landfill site of terrible, generic, insipid, fetid found footage waste taking up the rest of the space left over.
With this movie however, director Michael Axelgaard and writer Matthew Holt have made the intelligent decision to put the characters first. This means that we actually care about what is happening to the unlucky lads and lasses caught up in the horror of Hollow.
Made up of two couples – Emma and Scott (Emily Plumtree and Matt Stokoe) and James and Lynne (Sam Stockman and Jessica Ellerby) – the film fully explores the intense and interesting dynamic between the foursome, pulling apart secrets and lies and exposing cravings and cracks in each relationship. This builds and boils away until it all reaches a head, at the same time as the horror fully takes over.
This intense character driven drama plays out alongside the main plotline, which tells the ancient story of a twisted and terrifying looking tree that local legend tells hides a great evil and a tragic past which Emma’s grandfather, a local vicar, may have become caught up in.
With ancient tales of ritual suicides and mad monks haunting a derelict and long destroyed monastery near the spooky tree, Hollow much like Wake Wood and Dorothy draws on Britain’s pagan past. In doing so it is enriched, making the horror all the more real, believable and engaging.
Luckily for a horror film with an emphasis on its characters, all the performances are excellent and subtly done with each individual’s true nature carefully crafted and revealed at the right moment. This all helps to heighten the emotional impact on the others.
In the same way, the story slowly builds up the underlying tension between the characters that director Axelgaard is more interested in, crafting more of a mood of dread and terror than outright frights. This works well, although the final act perhaps drags at times.
Perhaps not as innovative or as scary as it should be, Hollow must be given credit for being an example of how found footage horror can work well. It proves that when time is spent on story line and scripting the genre is not entirely dead, yet, in England. Even if American movies are trying their best to kill it off.
Hollow is part of Grimm’s New British Horror Double Bill (and Matt Holt the writer and producer of Hollow will be in attendance).
Find out more Here.