I think it’s fair to say that found footage flicks have very much become the Marmite of the horror genre.

For every person out there that is happy to sit through a wealth of shaky camerawork, there are equal numbers that are bored beyond tears by what the sub-genre has to offer.

Me? Well, I sit somewhere in the middle ground I suppose (much like my feelings for Marmite itself) – while I’m happy to take in the odd bit every now and then, too much and I’ll probably start to gag.

Matthew Axelgaard’s Hollow certainly didn’t have me reaching for any sort of sick bag, but it didn’t have me raving over it either.

A piece of found footage folly that takes an eternity to get going, the film only really kicks into full gear in a helter-skelter final 15 minutes that certainly earmarks Axelgaard as a director with potential.Hollow

Very much entrenched in the Blair Witch school of thought, Hollow takes place in Suffolk – the village of Dunwich to be exact.

Rather than feature any real kind of suspense over what may happen, the film elects to tell us straight from the off via some police camcorder footage and voiceover – four young adults were found hanging from an ominous tree in the centre of a field, with only their own camcorder footage as evidence of what may have occurred.

We then join said footage right from the beginning, with a pair of loved-up couples (or so it seems) heading to Dunwich.

The reasoning is that one of the group, Emma (played by Emily Plumtree ) is checking out the house left behind by her recently-deceased grandfather – who just happened to be a local priest.

Turns out the priest was a bit obsessed with a local tree – a tree which has seemingly triggered a troubling succession of suicide pacts from in-love couples.

That all sounds quite interesting and there is little doubt that the central premise of Hollow is a good one.

But rather than dive headlong into urban legends, tales of medieval witchcraft and the like, the film instead elects to have the first hour or so devoted to endless talk of romance, relationships and so on – including a game of strip Monopoly.

Now that would be all well and good, but the trouble is the four lead characters are all pretty unlikeable.

We have the whiny Emma, her fiancé Scott (who is a grade-A dick), the lovesick James (who pines for Emma) and his rent-a-girlfriend Lynne, who seems more than happy to get her kit off and shag anything that moves.

The whole thing stalls, but then, with 15 minutes to go, Hollow remembers it has marketed itself as a horror film and gets down to business.

Sure, a lot of it is still in the ‘running around in the dark screaming’ mould, but is very well done and genuinely suspenseful.

In fact, the whole thing is so well done that you almost forget that the opening of the film has already made it clear what is going to happen.

The performances are solid all round, with all four hamstrung by the deficiencies of their respective characters.

And, as stated earlier, Axelgaard certainly shows a deft touch at times, but can also crank up the pressure as shown in the climax.

It’s just a shame that Hollow didn’t go full throttle from the off, which might have made it a far more attractive proposition.

 

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.