By: Nick van Dinther
Black Hollow Cage is so visually special, you could watch it on mute. The fact that writer/director Sadrac González-Perellón attaches a surreal story and engaging characters to the presentation makes this a must-see.
The story follows Alice (Lowena McDonell), a girl with a robotic prosthetic arm, living in an isolated house with her father and a talking dog she claims to be her mother. After her father takes in an injured stranger and her brother, Alice becomes suspicious of what their true intentions may be. These suspicions only grow as she comes across a mysterious cube in the forest that sends her a message warning her about the strangers and leaving her struggling with who to trust.
The plot may sound as if it’s a bit all over the place, but Sadrac González-Perellón pieces it together with ease. The entirety of this film takes place from within a house, a setting that’s as much of a supporting role as it is stunning. The cinematography has very little movement save for some tracking shots, but the simplicity adds to the viewer’s immersive experience. González-Perellón also makes sure to use dialogue wisely in a concerted effort to have characters speak only when they have something important to say. There is no need for filler conversation, and the silence just adds to the tension throughout Black Hollow Cage. Scenes range from genuinely jarring and disturbing to mesmerizing, taking the viewer on a journey they’ll have to figure out on their own.
However, if there is one sore spot in González-Perellón’s film, it’s vague to a fault. Considering how open-ended some clues are, it would have been nice to have solid answers for the finale. A lack of dialogue can cause trouble in other movies, but this cast comes through. Lorena McDonell, especially, uses engaging movements and facial expressions, including during a painfully emotional scene in the latter half of the film. Julian Nicholson plays her father – the other real standout. The relationship between father and daughter and the evolving dynamic with these characters adds to the great storytelling – they both play so well off one another. McDonnell is certainly someone to keep an eye on.
There is nothing hollow about Black Hollow Cage. It’s a unique, well told, beautiful home run.
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Nick van Dinther: @NickVanDinther