"Hollow" Will Finally Get a Wide Release This Month
The 'found film' sub-genre of horror films arguably started with "The Blair Witch Project," which ushered in a new way to frighten people just as many scary movies had begun to go stale. It was so successful and created so much buzz that many filmmakers rushed to try to capitalize on it. Many attempts fell flat, but a few have managed to stand out from the crowd. One of those is the British film "Hollow," which has finally been picked up for distribution by Tribeca Film.
The movie was made in 2011 on a low budget, as most found-footage films are. The film stars Emily Plumtree as Emma, Matt Stokoe as Emma's fiancé Scott, Sam Stockman as James and Jessica Ellerby as James's girlfriend Lynne. These four close friends decide to take a fateful vacation to the English countryside. They are touring the Suffolk area of England, where every hamlet has ominous landmarks and tons of ghost stories.
Once of these ghost stories centers on a tree near a ruined monastery near Dunwich, which happens to be Emma's hometown. Emma isn't happy about visiting her family, so she tries to spice the trip up with a distraction about the tree, which is said to be haunted by a hooded figure. The figure, or perhaps the tree itself, has allegedly enticed couples to hang themselves from the tree's branches. The branches are effectively spooky, resembling evil hands that could bend to scoop you up at any given time.
It is hard to believe that a tree could be the villain in a film, but "Hollow" makes it work. It scared audiences at the Fantasia Film Festival, where it had its international debut in 2011. There was no quibbling over the fact that the tree itself may be a killer, because the tree is so scary looking. Writer Matthew Holt and director Michael Axelgaard have essentially taken an inanimate object from everyday life and turned it into the boogeyman. If you know of a tree nearby that has a hollow in it, you may never look at it the same way again after seeing this film.
The footage is shaky, as you might expect from this genre of film. It gets jerkier as the film goes on and the frights and scares come at a more deliberate pace. The interesting thing about "Hollow" is that it doesn't just rely on scares to be eerie. It relies on the increased tension of the four friends as the group begins to mentally splinter. It is revealed that James has a crush on Emma, which doesn't sit well with Lynne or Scott. Lynne and Scott's suspicion that the crush might not be so one-sided begins to make the friends emotionally vulnerable. The tree, or the spirit inside it, may have even been the thing that caused the attraction. How else could so many other couples fall prey to it?
The emotional wreckage soon turns psychological as one of the friends begins to go mad. The madness begins to take hold of the others, which culminates in a standoff between the friends in the car and whatever is possessing the tree. This may not sound frightening, but Axelgaard makes it creepy..
Despite strong showings at the Fantasia International Film Festival, the film did not immediately find a distributor. With so many critics maligning the found film genre as being overdone and old, it is not hard to figure out why so many studios would take a pass on "Hollow." The film industry is a money game after all, and it is hard to market a movie like this without making it look like a clone of "The Blair Witch Project," especially since it has so many similarities.
Thankfully, Tribeca Film decided in 2012 to buy several films for distribution. They aren't using the traditional distribution used for independent films like "Hollow," though. Instead, they are taking advantage of new technology and ideas to make it available to a much wider audience. Usually, a film like this would be released in big movie markets like Los Angeles and New York, then get a wider distribution over the next several weeks. Instead, Tribeca is releasing "Hollow" in some theaters, but also on many Video on Demand (VOD) platforms.
By using VOD platforms such as iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and cable and satellite VOD, Tribeca is making the film available to over 40 million potential viewers. This gives it a much wider audience and a greater potential for financial success. With the continued use of VOD, many movies like "Hollow" that may have otherwise never been released will get a chance to make your skin crawl.