Director: Michael Axelgaard
Screenplay: Matthew Holt
Starring: Emily Plumtree, Sam Stockman, Matt Stokoe, Jessica Ellerby
Producers: Matthew Holt, David Grant
Running Time: 91 min
BBFC Rating: 15
Ever since The Blair Witch Project, a horror sub-genre in “found footage” has become increasingly popular. It has proved an excellent low budget method, requiring a skeleton crew and basic equipment. That is not to say the sub-genre cannot go big budget, as seen by Matt Reeves/JJ Abrams’ Cloverfield. That particular film however, split the mainstream audience with many experiencing nausea from the shaky handheld camerawork. More recently, the Paranormal Activity franchise has proved a commercially viable success.
So to Hollow, a UK production bringing the sub-genre to the English countryside. We follow newly engaged Emma and Scott, along with Emma’s lifelong friend James and his new girlfriend, Lynne on a weekend getaway to Suffolk. Staying at Emma’s late grandfather’s country cottage, some disturbing memories resurface for Emma, aggravated by mysterious discoveries in her grandfather’s possessions.
Much of the focus revolves around an ancient hollow tree, legendary locally as a place for tragic young couples to carry out suicide pacts. As our young couples uncover more information about the tree, so it becomes more symbolically demonic in its depiction. Sub-plots form, raising the tension, by pitting the main protagonists against each other through lust, jealousy and unrequited love, presumably exacerbated by the malevolent effects of the tree. The violence here is mostly psychological, with the only blood on screen courtesy of mutilated wildlife.
Hollow does fall to the low budget end of the aforementioned sub-genre and does everything expected of its pedigree. It does feel like something a first time director/writer/producer would make to enter into festivals as a calling card, and that is exactly what it is. Premiering at the Fantasia Festival in 2011, Hollow went onto Raindance in the same year, in the competition for Best British Feature.
It must have its merits then. Well, the plot is not without holes and is pretty formulaic but this makes it an easy watch without any necessary complications. There is brief nudity and drug use that don’t necessarily serve the plot, but don’t overly distract from it either and have become a staple of the genre. The unknown cast deliver credible performances, even when carrying out camera duties simultaneously! My biggest criticism here would have to be the pacing. Sometimes Hollow seems to be a little too padded out for my liking, perhaps to keep to that feature length timeline demanded by some festivals.
If you are a fan of horror, and especially the “found footage” sub-genre then you could do much worse than Hollow.
Review by Keiran McGreevy