aka The Burning Curse
Director/Story – Sheldon Wilson, Screenplay – Rick Suvalle & Sheldon Wilson, Producer – Jamie Goehring, Photography – Eric J. Goldstein, Music – Hal Beckett, Visual Effects – The VFX Cloud (Supervisor – Brett Keyes), Special Effects Supervisor – Rob Musnicki, Production Design – Rick Whitfield. Production Company – Sonar Entertainment/Lighthouse Pictures.
Stephanie Hunt (Sarah), Sarah Dugdale (Marley), Alisa Newton (Emma), Richard Harmon (Seth), Hilary Jardine (Nichole), Jonathan Whitesell (Alex), Deborah Kara Unger (Aunt Cora), Dylan Playfair (Toby), Michael Adamthwaite (Eddy), Garry Chalk (Donald), Laine MacNeil (Jill)
Sisters Sarah, Marley and Emma travel to Shelter Island. Because they have had to spend all the inheritance from their late parents on Emma’s medical bills, they have been left impoverished and are planning to move in with their Aunt Cora. A storm is approaching the island and they are warned to stay away as they go to catch the ferry but ignore this because they have nowhere else to go. On the island, they find bodies in the streets, including that of Aunt Cora. They are then attacked by a creature of fire. Seeking shelter along with other survivors, they find that the island suffers a curse placed on it by women who were burned as witches and that their vengeance has come as a storm that will obliterate everybody on the island.
The Hollow is one of the entries from director Sheldon Wilson. Wilson first appeared with the low-budget horror film Shallow Ground (2004) and has since churned out a string of genre films that have mostly found play on cable tv with the likes of Kaw (2007), Carny (2009), Screamers: The Hunting (2009), Mothman (2010), Red: Werewolf Hunter (2010), Mega Cyclone (2011), Killer Mountain (2011), Snowmageddon (2011), Cold Spring (2013), Scarecrow (2013), Shark Killer (2015), The Unspoken (2015), The Night Before Halloween (2016), Stickman (2017) and Dead in the Water (2018).
I can’t say that any of Sheldon Wilson’s other films have done anything for me. As a result of my lowered expectations, I was surprised by The Hollow. Wilson builds atmosphere with much in the way of warnings and portents as the sisters arrive on the island, only to find the streets deserted and littered with dead bodies. The creature is an extremely original design – first seen in terms of arms made of interwoven vines reaching up to claw itself out of the hollow and then the full creature appearing, lit from within by orange fire.
Wilson creates some unearthly jumps – the scene where the group are talking outside the farmhouse and a woman is blasted out through the front door, taking it off its hinges, and falls dead, only for a hand of creepers to reach up and grab Sarah Dugdale’s ankle as they approach the body. Or the scene in a darkened convenience store where the creature abruptly snatches the owner and then disappears up into the air ducts, while Sarah Dugdale faces creepers trying to drag her under the SUV. Or the surreal scene where a map the group are looking at starts burning, before the creature punches through the wall.
The latter scenes are standard monster movie stuff of the protagonists fighting off the creature and struggling to find a defence. The script offers a nominal explanation about supernatural retribution from witches burned at the stake but there is never much explanation of how/why their retribution manifests as a creature made of flaming creepers. Sheldon Wilson has clearly wanted to make a monster movie, at which he does rather effectively – the rest is just window dressing.
The Hollow came out amid a confusing number of similarly titled films that also included the thriller The Hollow (2016) and the Irish horror film The Hallow (2015), plus The Hollow Point (2016), the horror film The Hollow One (2015) and the abduction/ghost film Hollow Creek (2016). There was also an earlier film The Hollow (2004) but that was an adaptation of Washington Irving’s classic story The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1820) and is unrelated to this.