PUTRID PREVIEWS: FANTASIA 2011: HOLLOW
Starring Sam Stockman, Emily Plumtree, Matt Stokoe and Jessica Ellerby
Directed by Michael Axelgaard
Written by Matthew Holt
Description: The Blair Witch Project meets Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Plot: Four old school friends drive into the remote British countryside and discover an ancient tree where there have been several strange suicides involving young couples. They soon discover the area’s weird history, including the legend of the evil ghost of a monk said to drive its victims mad. At the same time, old jealousies and emotions threaten to drive the friends apart and maybe end their lives.
Verdict: First-time filmmakers Michael Axelgaard and Matthew Holt have crafted a spooky homage to old British ghost stories which is made less original for its obvious indebtedness to The Blair Witch Project’s shaky-cam approach. Axelgaard’s small cast is strong, and delivers Matthew Holt’s eloquent dialogue with sincerity and passion. In fact, the complex dynamic between the two couples – Lynn (Jessica Ellerby) flirts with Scott (Matt Stokoe) who is engaged to Emma (Emily Plumtree) whose best friend James (Sam Stockman) has a crush on her – is at times more compelling than the horror of their situation.
And Hollow is creepy, although its handheld aesthetic, combined with available and often dim lighting, makes it difficult to see what is going on… if in fact there was anything going on. Axelgaard and Holt subscribe to the ‘it’s scarier if you don’t see it’ school of horror which adds a frisson of unease. Is something supernatural going on? Is one of the group insane? The audience is left to draw its own conclusions.
Overall Hollow is an entertaining character study which uses its low budget to good effect, relying on suggestion and dread to disturb us instead of spectacle.
Hollow screens July 31 at 9:30 at J.A. De Seve Theatre and August 1 at 3 pm at the same theatre. Director Michael Axelgaard and screenwriter Matthew Holt will be in attendance.