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Movie Review – The Hollow Is A Slow Burner…A Little Too Slow

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The Hollow

Written and Directed by Miles Doleac

Featuring – James Callis, Christiane Seidel, Miles Doleac, William Sadler and William Forsythe.

A young couple are passing through a small town in Cutler County, Mississippi, looking for a place to rest their road weary heads for the night. They seek the advice of a local deputy sheriff, who tells them of a nearby parking locale, known as The Hollow, could be a suitable place to camp for the night.

Shortly after arriving, they realize they’re going to have company when another couple parks close by. While they may have banked on spending the night there, it’s unlikely they thought it would be their FINAL resting place.

The next morning, the couple and a local girl are all found shot to death at The Hollow. If this wasn’t bad enough, the young woman passing through with her boyfriend just happened to be the daughter of a Congressman from Illinois.

Like it or not, the local constabulary are now expected to provide consideration and cooperation to the FBI agents brought in to investigate.

The tension between the two law enforcement agencies becomes palpable. The local sheriff’s department becomes increasingly resistant to the intrusion of the FBI agents, who already resent being assigned to investigate a murder in the middle of nowhere.

As one of the FBI agents is dealing with his own personal turmoil, some of the townsfolk, including the sheriff’s department, are scurrying to hide their various dark and illicit secrets from the prying eyes of these outsiders.

With tensions flaring on both law enforcement fronts, will any headway be made in the murder investigation before things reach a fever pitch?

Miles Doleac definitely put his time in on The Hollow, writing, producing, directing and even starring in the film.

The story has a contemporary In the Heat of the Night feel minus the 60’s era racial tension. This isn’t to say there’s not plenty of tension to be found, when outsiders from the FBI arrive to investigate the three murders in this small Mississippi town.

It’s obviously supposed to be a slow burning, character driven crime drama, but it drags for too long before reaching a resolution. The story of the subsequent investigation of the murders needed to be fleshed out more.

There are a fair amount of possibilities as to “who done it”, all of them circumstantial at best. Yet, little time is spent establishing truly solid and viable motives for any of the suspects.

With a run time of two hours and eight minute (with credits), there’s plenty of time to thicken the plot and create some suspense. The story was lopsided and leaned more in the direction of Agent Killinger’s personal drama than the details of the murder investigation.

In the end, it was a promising story idea, that didn’t quite deliver.

For the most part, Doleac is able to get very solid performances from this cast, despite the fact that the character types are rather cliche. There is one performer in particular whose performance should have been reined in.

James Callis, in the role of FBI Special Agent Vaughn Killinger, is an on the ragged edge, borderline alcoholic type with plenty of family and career issues. Callis abandoned any sense of subtlety, as he seemed to be channeling David Caruso. He was way over the top and exaggerated, so much so it becomes distracting at times.

As FBI Agent Sarah Desoto, Christiane Seidel effectively crates a character, who may be very beautiful, but is also intelligent and capable.  Doleac also turned in quite a good performance as the crooked,  side-dealing Deputy Ray Everrett.

The two Williams, Sadler and Forsythe, have always been favorites of mine and I have yet to find a performance by either that I didn’t like. Their performances here are certainly no exception to that sentiment. Both actors show off their well honed acting skills in their respective rolls.

Sadler played a short timer sheriff named Beau McKinney, who neither expected nor wanted a high profile murder case to land directly in his path to retirement.

As Big John Dawson, Forsythe finds himself in the role of a southern barrister who seems to command a great deal of his local authority by way of unlawful endeavors.

The production values are good and the film is well shot. The fact that The Hollow was shot on location in Mississippi helped to maintain a sense of authenticity. It becomes a character all its own, and an important one at that.  Another aspect is Clifton Hyde’s original music, which lends a real Southern Blues backdrop to the story.

Everything considered, there is little doubt that The Hollow will garner Everrett some attention for future acting and/or directing gigs. The aspects that did work for this film, worked well and show real potential for future projects.

That being said I give The Hollow 6.5/10…and yeah, I’m looking at you Callis!

You, the readers, will have the opportunity to decide for yourselves if The Hollow is worthy of a look, when it becomes available on VOD and in theaters Friday October 7th.

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