Saturday, May 9, 2015

In short: Hollows Grove (2014)

It would be pretty easy to dismiss Craig Efros’s Hollows Grove as just another piece of POV horror about one of these fake ghost hunting reality shows for once encountering the actual supernatural, one of the more improbable sub-genres in existence. As a matter of fact, originality isn’t he film’s forte, nor is it the drawing of interesting or at least easy to empathize with characters: the people we encounter are an incredibly annoying group of asshats and jokers, so I spent the the film’s first half hoping for their fast and painful demise.

On the other hand, if you don’t get too distracted by the characters’ general hatefulness and look at what’s actually going on around them, you will not just see a good choice in cameos in Mykelti Williamson and the always lovely Lance Henriksen but perhaps appreciate Hollow Grove’s general level of competence when it comes to filmmaking basics like decent blocking, effective pacing, and so on. Now, this might sound like damning with faint praise, but I’d argue that keeping your film clear and competent while still selling it as something at best semi-professionally shot is not an easy thing to do. A lot of pretty ugly POV horror movie support my argument here.

There are also a final twenty minutes – the point when the characters have realized they are trapped, out of their depth and probably doomed – that go from competent to actually good, with some creatively imagined character deaths, and at least two and a half fright scenes that were actually more than just a little effective, with one clichéd yet inspired bonus moment happening after the credits. It’s not enough to get me raving about a film, but certainly more than enough to convince the hardened horror movie fan he didn’t waste his time watching it.

Basically, this is – not stylistically, mind you – a lot like many SyFy original movies: a pleasant enough time when you want to watch something undemanding, and clearly putting effort into being enjoyable for its target audience, which just happens to include me.

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