The Hollow Child is a feature film debut for screenwriter Ben Rollo and director Jeremy Lutter, and it’s an efficient entry-level vehicle for both of them even if this horror feels like a retread.
Foster teen Samantha (Jessica McLeod) is a renegade by nature since she’s been deemed as “temporary”. She confides in her best friend Emily (Genevieve Buechner), which proves to be beneficial but also provokes her rebellious tendencies. Meanwhile, having been recently embraced by a family, Samantha’s new parents pray dearly for her acceptance and they hope she’ll be a good influence for their youngest Olivia (Hannah Cheramy). Samantha shows reluctance towards her new little sister, which changes drastically when Olivia goes missing and suddenly appears days later; seeming unlike her peppy self and taken over by “something”.
You’ve heard this type of story before; even with these types of characters, the uncanny action beats, and a final twist that plays all too familiarly. But The Hollow Child deals mostly in atmospheric creepiness, which is good considering that the narrative boils down to an eerie campfire story. Lutter’s patient direction and Rollo’s contemplative pacing fosters the right lingering distress to properly build suspense. McLeod’s grounded performance and Cheramy’s frightening breakout also hit a pleasing balance between subtlety and stirring disturbance.
Aside from the climactic scenes dabbling in impressive make-up and design, The Hollow Child didn’t necessarily scare me. It did, however, chill me – that’s just as effective.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie