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The Hollow (2004)
Director: Kyle Newman

review by Alasdair Stuart

When a film opens with Stacy Keach taking an axe to the grave of Washington Irving you know you're in for a ride. The Hollow is a real guilty pleasure; packed full of recognisable faces, and has a script that is pure, hands off the wheel, pulp horror fun.

Ian Cranston (Kevin Zeger) is a high school student. A gifted storyteller, he's famous locally for his love of the headless horseman story, which, supposedly, took place in the area. As Halloween gears up, Ian finds himself increasingly attracted to cheerleader Karen (Kaley Cuoco) and at loggerheads with Brody (Nick Carter), a football player whose party piece is playing the horseman in the annual haunted hayride.

Meanwhile, Claus Von Ripper (yes, really, played by Keach) is trying to persuade Sheriff Duncan (Nicholas Turturro) to call the hayride off. The vines on the outskirts of town are swollen with blood, blood that's feeding the horseman...

Zeger's quietly likeable as Ian and acts as a perfect foil for the other characters. His best scenes are with Keach as Claus, and Cucoco and Carter as Karen and Ben. In all three cases he does a good job of showing the gradual realisation that he has a destiny linked to the town's past, a classic hero's journey played out against the backdrop of the haunted hayride. He's likeable, funny, has presence and is a convincingly fragile lead, helping the dramatic weight of the film tremendously.

Cuoco's TV work has shown she's a gifted comedienne but here she plays it pretty straight and is all the more better for that. Karen is halfway between Ian and Brody, prepared to believe the fantastic but still mired in the traditional quagmire of high school popularity contests. She's an unusual and fun female lead, smart, tough and not prone to making stupid decisions for the sake of cheap jeopardy. Even Carter, a former Backstreet Boy, makes a surprisingly likeable jerk as Brody, an oafish but oddly likeable bully.

The supporting cast are impressive with Keach chewing any scenery not nailed down as Claus, the always impressive Turturro doing what he can with his tiny role, and Judge Reinhold turning in a great performance as the ultimate pushy coach dad. This is a good cast with decent characters and the end result is a horror movie that consistently rises above its minimal budget to create a genuinely fun experience.

The Hollow is immensely old fashioned, traditional storytelling right down to the last minute twists and turns. It's also tremendous fun, cheap, energetic filmmaking that sets out only to entertain. If you're looking for a fun but forgettable night in (with the added bonus of spending the entire film going 'oh it's him!' at the packed cast) then this is for you.
The Hollow

review material
courtesy of
Zone Horror
- the UK's only
dedicated
horror channel.



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