I feel like I've written this intro a hundred times before. You know the one, it's about how The Blair Witch Project happened and then later Paranormal Activity happened and then the "found footage" horror movie was everywhere. And they just keep coming at us, over and over again.
Today's example is Hollow, in which a creepy tree and an epidemic of suicides tie in to an ancient cult. This sounds like a spoiler, perhaps, but what kind of surprised me about Hollow was how little time was spent on the reasons for this supernatural hotspot. Instead, we spend much of the film watching the characters interact with the old dark country home and deal with their relationships with each other.
The relationship part of the film gets a lot of focus, as the young woman who grew up in the house, Emma (Emily Plumtree) interacts with her fiance Scott (Matt Stokoe). At the same time, Emma's friend James (Sam Stockman) tries to woo a blonde minx (Jessica Ellerby) who's been added to the picture - while also dealing with his feelings for Emma. The film never goes all the way into soap opera drama territory while dealing with this love rectangle, and I thought Hollow did a pretty good job of keeping the relationships moving - even though I was definitely more interested in the old dark countryside part of the story.
And it's easy to see why, because the dark moments as the hand-held camera moves around the estate did a pretty good job of getting under my skin. There are a lot of moments where the camera provides the only light as a character moves around the pitch black estate, and I couldn't help but be a little creeped out at times. Director Michael Axelgaard does a good job of building tension at moments, but the tension isn't always consistent throughout the film.
The inconsistency really hurts the film's pacing, which becomes an issue particularly as the final act rolls around. The film kind of grinds to a halt just before the conclusion, and the last 15 minutes left me just waiting for something to happen. The biggest problem for any found footage horror film, especially at this point in the game, will be viewers that compare them to their predecessors, and this severely hurts Hollow as the characters deal with their predicament. Some fans will probably bemoan the film because they've "seen this before", and I'm not sure I'd disagree with them.
It will take a patient viewer to get something out of Hollow, because the pace is occasionally tedious and the way the plot is presented offers little new to the formula. I still liked Hollow enough to give it a mild recommendation for a viewing, but I can't imagine going back to the film a second time. There are a lot of interesting parts to the film, but it's one of those films that I kind of lost interest in shortly after I'd finished watching it. I'm not sure that there's a lot of lasting value in this one.
Hollow is currently available on most VOD services, and if you're looking for a found footage tale with some chills and a focus on character, you could do worse. For more info, head over the the Tribeca Films site for the film and/or check out the trailer below.