Sheldon Wilson’s “The Hollow” or as I refer to it “Phantoms 2: Samhain Edition,” is one of the more incomplete feeling horror films I’ve seen in a long time. Although the movie isn’t the completely worst Halloween oriented horror entry I’ve ever seen, it definitely feels like it could have stood for twenty minutes of exposition. Even when it stops the movie in its tracks to drop exposition, it still feels like the screenwriters are working on an under cooked film that never finds its footing. So much of “The Hollow” is downright unpleasant and dull, and manages to squander a potentially really cool movie monster.
Its Halloween eve, and sisters Sarah (Stephanie Hunt), Marley (Sarah Dugdale), and young Emma (Alisha Newton) are still reeling from losing their parents. After going broke, they’ve decided to move to the small seaside town of Shelter Island. As their aunt (Deborah Kara Unger appears for a thankless two minute walk on) prepares to take them in, they’re oblivious to an age old Halloween curse that wreaks havoc on the denizens on the Island. With a merciless supernatural monster laying waste to survivors, the trio of women must figure out how to wait out the monster until the end of Halloween, or else they might become its next victims. Oh and there’s a storm coming to the island, too. But we never see that and it has no real bearing on the premise.
There’s not a lot of explanation toward much of what occurs in “The Hollow” and I spent a lot of the movie scratching my head more than anything else. It’s hard to drop yourself in to a narrative when you have to keep pondering on why it takes certain directions. Why is it only the island that’s being affected? Why didn’t the ferryman or anyone on the outside realize there was a massacre happening in a small town? Also why is Emma so special? Are there more than one monster stalking people? In one instance the characters seem to be counting how many monsters are spread among the island killing people. The next moment they’re all pretty much running and hiding from one beast. Also, is the monster vulnerable to sun light or not? One moment it’s cowering from the sun light in a dim room, and the next it’s chasing people in a sun drenched street.
Also, why was it keeping some victims nested in branch cocoon while others were just slaughtered? The trio of protagonists has zero chemistry, and “The Hollow” fails to build on any kind of suspense, relying more on limp shocks and jump scares that feel like it came out of 1999. People pop out of corners, slam in to walls to get everyone’s attention, and it becomes incredibly tiresome. Also these characters do nothing productive throughout the film, often spending their screen time getting everyone else killed, all the while they run around screaming each other’s names repeatedly as people literally urge them to be quiet. “The Hollow” just seems to go on auto drive in the final ten minutes, relying on a few fake out endings, and a climax that’s so poorly constructed it felt all cobbled together in a haste. In the realm of monster movies, “The Hollow” is clumsy, dull, and you can do so much better than this.