Do you hate The X-Files, but feel like watching a maudlin addict and a rational redhead embark on a federal investigation as they solve a mysterious murder in a small American town? Miles Doleac’s The Hollow might be for you!
A backwater part of Mississippi grabs the attention of the FBI when a triple homicide that includes a congressman’s daughter occurs. As agents investigate, they uncover corrupt and cowardly law enforcement and a southern-fried kingpin who has a tight leash on just about everybody in town.
Think of The Hollow as a CSI episode executed with equal style and substance. The structure and weight of the film are done similarly to a procedural television series, in the best way possible. It drops you into the setting at the perfect spot to completely comprehend it, and introduces the main characters as if you know and love them already – and quickly, you feel like you do. It helps that actors Christiane Seidel and James Callis – FBI agents Sarah Desoto and Vaughn Killinger – have great chemistry, and individually provide engaging performances. Doleac himself stars in what would be the day player’s role – the stunt-casted guest star the episode is really about. The film makes you hate him as a villain, hate him as a hero, but we sympathize with him nonetheless.
The Hollow provides a story straight out of a 1980s action flick (local baron rules small town with good values through a drug trade, federal do-gooder blows into town to overthrow the methlord and take out the corrupt sheriff’s office) sans heavy synth riffs, but Doleac presents it through a gritty, contemporary vision. Don’t judge the “gritty” factor too quickly, though. Some may feel the sepia stained, foul-mouthed, anti-hero exploitation resurgence has run its course by now, but The Hollow is surely tongue-in-cheek enough to receive a passing grade.
The film is so satisfyingly framed. Cinematographer Ben McBurnett works with the limited, yellow-toned colour palette beautifully, offering everything that you need to see with angles, set pieces and performers lining up perfectly to satiate some mild form of obsessive compulsion you didn’t know you had.
The Hollow is a mixture of different eras, and it works. Don’t see it for nostalgia’s sake – it won’t solely nourish that appetite. However, check it out to see what can be accomplished by appreciating trends of film, but not taking them too seriously.
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Trevor Jeffery: @TrevorSJeffery