I love found footage movies. I adored Paranormal Activity, as well as the sequels to some extent, and I’m a huge apologist for The Blair Witch Project as well as, recently, V/H/S. This gimmick, and it is definitely a gimmick, has potential to make for classic horror when put in the right hands.
That didn’t happened here. Michael Axelgaard is the definition of the wrong hands.
Hollow is the worst found footage movie I’ve seen so far. It represents perfectly everything that’s wrong with this gimmick, and how easily it can be abused.
Ideally, the first person format should be used to assist in the storytelling. With Paranormal Activity, the movie is all about creating a realistic setting, and much of the plot revolves around observing your room as you sleep. I can’t imagine that as a traditionally shot film. It being filmed on the protagonist’s camera is important.
Movies like Hollow don’t use this gimmick as a tool; they use it as an excuse.
It’s an excuse to make your low budget, equivalent to that of a student film, seem less obvious; an excuse to never actually show anything substantial; an excuse to never fully develop your characters; an excuse to point the camera at someone’s feet for minutes at a time and get away with it.
On top of that, nearly every single scare in Hollow is a fake out. The character will point the camera at something, or start to walk somewhere, and things will get quiet. Suddenly, the camera will SUDDENLY CUT to something else, or a bird will fly out.
These can be fun sometimes, but when the ratio of fake out scares to real scares is roughly 9 to 1, there’s a serious issue. That number is probably too generous.
Now let’s talk about the actual scares. What I mean by this is times we or the characters are frightened by something that turns out to be an actual threat; the difference between a cat jumping out at you, and a monster jumping out at you.
I can recall maybe three in the entire film.
And who is the villain, exactly? The closest we get is a tree, which never actually does anything sinister (that skull on the poster is a complete lie), and a jacket. A character’s coat becomes one of the major threats of the final act.
The rest of the film is a combination of useless filler scenes, mostly revolving around relationship drama that not even these actors seem to give a shit about, and scenes of characters running around screaming as the camera points at the ground, with the viewer not being able to see anything.
The ending is puzzling. Not because it’s surprising, but because it’s so spectacularly unsurprising that you can’t help but laugh. The movie forecasts exactly what will happen from the opening scene, and then by the end, it happens. And that’s it. It never even attempts to surprise us.
Hollow is essentially 90 minutes of watching vacation footage your douche bag kind-of-but-not-really friends shot while snorting cocaine and screaming about haunted trees.
But other than that, it was pretty good.