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New Release Review (VOD) - THE HOLLOW

A pair of detectives investigate the murder of a small town politician's daughter.






Review by Sean Lawlor (@generalsnobbery)

Directed by: Miles Doleac

Starring: James Callis, Miles Doleac, Christiane Seidel, William Sadler, David Warshofsky, Jeff Fahey, William Forsythe



The Hollow is an aesthetically beautiful film with admirable grit and passion at its core. However, it gets so waterlogged with its many characters and the oft-volatile relationships between them that by the end, the story becomes exceedingly difficult to follow.


The Hollow is an aesthetically beautiful film with admirable grit and passion at its core. Its many actors dive headfirst into their roles, channeling intense emotions with as much conviction as they can summon. There are soap-opera levels of drama between these characters: cheating spouses, secret coworker relationships, and, most importantly, psychopathic criminals. The film, however, gets so waterlogged with its many characters and the oft-volatile relationships between them that by the end, the story becomes exceedingly difficult to follow.


The setup is simple: in a small town, there’s a dirty cop named Ray (Miles Doleac, the film’s writer/director) who sells drugs, has affairs, and glares at everyone he meets. When two outta-towner lovebirds ask Ray and his partner for a recommended place to stay the night, Ray directs them to “the Hollow”, a mysterious location down a dirt road where bad stuff happens. The lovebirds, having sex in their car, hear a woman screaming. Then they hear a gunshot. Then they sit there tensely for a few moments until they get shot, too. Enter eccentric detective Vaughn Killinger (James Callis) and his partner Sarah (Christiane Seidel), and the movie becomes a Twin Peaks inspired detective story, as the now-dead girl turns out to be a popular politician’s daughter at the local high school.

Doleac strives to honor the tropes of the detective genre while adding depth to its proceedings. Much of the depth he seeks to build comes through investigation of the importance of religion, evidenced most explicitly in a fiery confrontation between Killinger and some locals re: the role of Jesus in society. The religious themes do not sufficiently come together and further complicate a story that has already become overwrought in complications. If I’m being totally honest, I often had no idea what was happening.


Still, I doff my cap to Doleac for his skills at writing dialogue. His biggest strength as a writer is in establishing backstories with dialogue that feels natural to the moment, setting, and character, rather than thrusting obnoxious exposition onto the audience through the characters’ mouths and thinking us dumb enough to mistake it as development. I appreciate this well executed intention, yet room for clearer guidance exists.

Amid its familiar detective tropes, this is a character-driven story. The problem is most of these characters come across as one-note. Amid a plot that grows more complicated by the frame, the characters do not grow more complex. Ray is always scowling. Killinger is always craving booze and acting eccentrically. The actors play this note well, but after a half hour, I was waiting for them to surprise me. They never did.


Doleac appears to be interested in the darkness of the human soul, especially as it manifests in those appointed to uphold the law, such as police officers and politicians. He’s skilled with a camera and frames beautiful shots with a lot going on (there’s one great shot revealing a sign hanging beside the entrance of a general store that tells us so much about the town’s character). I could see him making a great film that focuses more on a complicated character than a complicated story - or, rather, one that develops a complicated story through the development of that complicated character, maybe a twisted man trying to cope with a reality not meant for him. Perhaps a nighttime visit to the Hollow will guide Doleac’s mind exactly where it needs to go. Let’s just hope no murderers are lurking in the shadows.

The Hollow is in select US cinemas and on VOD from October 7th.







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