Director: Michael Axelgaard
Writer: Matthew Holt
Stars: Emily Plumtree, Sam Stockman, Jessica Ellerby
Trees. They don’t have a auspicious role in the history of horror do they. Sinister and creepy as they might be, on the big screen they don’t really seem, well, all that frightening. Possibly because cinema is all about movement – or if you’re a pedant the inter-relationship between movement and stillness – so having great big lumps of wood that don’t move isn’t all that scary, no matter how gnarly the trees concerned actually are. So you get films like The Guardian (embarrassing), The Wicker Tree (disappointing), From Hell it Came (funny) and Island of the Doomed (deranged). Ok, so there are some decent moments of arboreal anxiety in The Evil Dead, but otherwise they’ve probably best been represented by the macabre tree hanging with corpses in Excalibur and – at a stretch – the Dr Who story The Seeds of Doom (which frightened the cr*p out of me as a kid).
All of which brings us on to Hollow, yet another in the stream of found footage horror films that have been clogging up the shelves at the Amazon warehouses over the past few years. Hollow is a story about a creepy tree in Suffolk – Suffolk, of course, being frightening enough in its own right the addition of dangerous vegetation – which somehow amplifies the negative emotions of anyone who goes near it, causing people to become suicidal or go mad. There’s also some kind of ghost affiliated to it, but this is rapidly forgotten about, leaving us instead to follow the demise of a fractious group of twentysomethings who are on holiday in the area.
This is a bit of a frustrating production. It’s decently made – or as much as a found footage film can be – and has a good sense of atmosphere. The characters are well written and the performances are above average for this kind of thing. But, but, but… the central premise is just so dumb and lacking in originality it’s hard to treat it seriously. As a result it feels entirely insubstantial, just another filler in a genre already overstuffed with fillers; and frankly I’ve had more than enough found footage horror films to last me lifetime (and not many of them are any good). But there’s enough there to suggest that director Michael Axelgaard could do something a lot better if given some decent material.