This movie has received next to no marketing most likely due to its part-digital release and Canadian production. Regardless, I was sold the moment I learned it was a new mystery thriller. These can be real hit or miss and I hoped this one would be more of the former for my Canadian pride.
Synopsis: With her father in jail and her mother having left when she was young, Alison Miller is the matriarch of the family watching over her only sibling Brandon. But on the anniversary of their father’s crimes, their family is pushed to its limits: a dead man has been found in a trailer park and Brandon is missing from the scene of the crime. (Metacritic)
Starring: Dianna Agron, Rachelle Lefevre and Shawn Ashmore
Writers: Scooter Corkle
Director: Scooter Corkle
Rating: 14A (Canada)/R (USA)
Running Time: 92 minutes
For showtimes and more, check out Hollow in the Land on movietimes.com.
The film’s opening moments show a handheld camera in the midst of a teenage brawl that ends in an overuse of force by local police and instantly the tense tone of this narrative is known. It won’t be a slow burning, strung out story that fizzles out before the third act. This is an edge-of-your-seat kind of thriller set in the backwoods of rural Canada.
Where else to begin other than the premise of this film. The idea of a character taking matters into their own hands when local law enforcement is getting nowhere is not a new one, with big Oscar contender Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Prisoners being some of the notable films that follow that concept. However, it is the location and characters that reside within it that make the story a little more interesting. Exploring Canada in general is an uncommon choice among filmmakers, but writer/director Scooter Corkle embraces his knowledge of rural western Canada and directs the hell out of this tense, hollow atmosphere. In turn, he writes a slow rising, intricately-plotted narrative that is accented by some phenomenal cinematography, landscapes and visuals.
Alison (Dianna Agron), the film’s protagonist, is a headstrong young woman who bears the weight of her family on her shoulders. Her story and disconnect with the locals is explored methodically as she slowly takes matters into her own hands. Her friends Daryl (Shawn Ashmore), a local police officer, and Lenny (Brent Stait), her mill worker buddy, also have some great supporting performances that bring a realistic feeling to the overall story. The rest of the characters for the most part are developed aside for some minor supporting ones lost in the wind.
The biggest issue that arises from this film is it lacks any score. In a tense thriller such as this, one would expect a meticulously-written, pulse-pounding theme to help enhance the tone of the film, but it was completely void of one. Perhaps it was a stylistic choice but it just took away from an obvious, instrumental piece vital to any edge-of-your-seat thriller.
Hollow in the Land is a well thought-out, gritty mystery thriller that finds itself supported by a richly layered narrative. While the story can sometimes get confusing and the lack of score is evident, the overall tone and atmosphere created by its stunning cinematography and sharp direction paired with some humanizing performances make this story hit its mark in the end. It’s essentially the Canadian Winter’s Bone meets Prisoners.
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