Hollow Creek (2016)
“Survival is running out of time”
Hollow Creek (2016)
Director: Guisela Moro
Cast: Steve Daron, Guisela Moro, Burt Reynolds
Synopsis: A horror novelist finds himself the chief suspect in the mysterious disappearance of his pregnant mistress.
Filmed in 2013 but only finding distribution three years later, Hollow Creek (or Haunting in Hollow Creek, as it is known in the UK), is very much a product of the Burt Reynolds Institute for Film and Theatre, a worthy non-profit organisation in which Reynolds and others teach their craft to budding actors. Guisela Moro, the star, writer and director of Hollow Creek, is a former student of the institute, as is leading man (and collaborating writer) Steve Daron, and their links to the Institute explain the appearance of Burt Reynolds, whose prominence in the film’s promotional material belies the fact that he only appears in a couple of scenes. Reynold’s mission to nurture creative talent is an admirable one that has offered unknown actors and filmmakers opportunities that might otherwise have been denied them. Unfortunately, while Hollow Creek isn’t a terrible movie, its cookie-cutter plot and poor pacing mean that the film hardly serves as a shining endorsement of the Institute’s objectives.
Moro plays Angelica Santoro, the mistress of best-selling horror writer Blake Blackman (Steve Daron), who is struggling to overcome a bad case of writer’s block. Blake’s publishers have the jacket artwork ready for his next masterpiece, but he has yet to write even one word of his new novel. In the hope that a change of scenery might lubricate his creative juices, he’s brought Angelica to his agent’s luxury cabin somewhere in West Virginia but, what with her losing her dog and nearly seeing ghostly apparitions, she proves to be more of a distraction than a help. To top things off, a routine visit to a doctor in the nearest town reveals that Angelica is three months pregnant, news which is sure to derail Blake’s efforts even further. However, Angelica never gets to deliver the news of her impending motherhood. On her way home from the doctor’s surgery she sees, in the back of a Chevy Impala, a boy whose missing poster is plastered all over town and, unable to get a signal on her mobile phone, decides to follow the car.
Unfortunately, instead of simply following the car at a safe distance until she learns its destination – a remote farmhouse on the furthest fringes of the town – Angelica allows her curiosity to get the better of her, and simply has to peer through a basement window of the house, a rash move which alerts the owner to her presence. Before she knows it, Angelica finds herself chained up in the basement next to a couple of home-made cages, inside of which reside a couple of urchins straight out of a Dickens novel, and the only thing that stops her crazy captor from immediately killing her is the fact that his equally crazy wife dissuades him from doing so until Angelica has delivered the baby. Angelica’s only hope is that Blake will find her before her pregnancy has run its course, but no sooner has he reported her missing than the local police decide he is their number one suspect…
Hollow Creek would like you to think it’s a horror movie, but, no matter how much Moro might cite Stephen King as an influence (the nearest town is even called Castle Rock, the fictional town in which many of King’s horror stories are situated), it isn’t a horror movie at all. We might see the occasional blank-faced, grungy-looking waif every now and then, and Moro does try hard to weave supernatural strands into what is otherwise a straightforward abduction thriller, but the fact is the story would work just as well without these paranormal elements. In fact, it would probably work better, as pacing is a real problem for Hollow Creek. The film begins at a funereal pace, with an inordinate amount of time devoted to the repeated disappearances of Angelica’s dog which turns out to have absolutely nothing to do with the plot; similarly, the few scenes devoted to Blake’s faltering relationship with his wife ultimately go nowhere, and Burt Reynolds’ cameo serves no purpose other than to lend the weight of his name to the project. Without these extraneous plot elements, the bloated 111 minute running time would be trimmed down to a much leaner 90 minutes or so, and Hollow Creek would be a much better movie as a result.
There are some positives, though. Hollow Creek looks a lot better than you’d expect for a movie with such a tiny budget ($500,000, allegedly), thanks largely to some lush West Virginia locations and Jon Schellenger’s atmospheric cinematography, and after that deadly slow beginning, the film does pick up momentum as it approaches its climax. Moro might be a little too old for her role, and Daron needs to work on his emoting (his stubble is mightily impressive, though), but they do at least work hard to communicate the fear and desperation of their characters. And no review would be complete without a mention for Alyn Darnay and, especially, Earleen Carey, as the perfectly-matched crazy couple, both of whom breath manic, over-the-top life into every scene they are in.
(Reviewed 9th February 2016)