A Promising Start Ruined By A By-The-Numbers Plot
Crafting a compelling horror film is notoriously difficult to get right and even harder to include genuine, effective scares. The Hollow Child is unfortunately an example of how not to create a horror, boasting a by-the-numbers story that drags on for far too long with little in the way of scares or horror to speak of throughout its 90 minute run time. There’s glimmers of brilliance here; lead protagonist Samantha has some good character development and the isolated setting of the barren woods does help drive the feeling of isolation. The Hollow Child lacks the cutting edge needed to pull off its premise and its overlong run time causes the more sombre moments to drag on far longer than they should.
The story begins with a brief prologue – two girls play hide and seek in the woods accompanied by a series of strange echoing noises. When one of the girls is literally dragged into the darkness and never seen again, it sets the scene for the story to follow. It’s here that The Hollow Child jumps forward 30 years where we meet Samantha (Jessica McLeod), a troubled teen who does everything in her power to shake off the presence of her younger foster sister, Olivia (Hannah Cheramy). After abandoning her in the woods to hang out with her friend instead, Olivia winds up missing while walking home, causing widespread panic for the family. When Olivia turns back up several days later things aren’t quite what they seem and what ensues is a dread-inducing struggle for Samantha to try and figure out what’s happened to her sister before it’s too late.
While the idea of possessed beings isn’t exactly original given it’s continued presence in this genre of films, The Hollow Child’s take on the subject is about as cliched and conventional as you can get. There are moments here that could be full of tension but mistimed music tracks or questionable lighting destroy any tension that could be built. The opening 10 and final 30 minutes of this film are, at the very least, enjoyable but everything in between lacks conviction, making it feel overlong and unnecessarily bloated. A vague examination into the disappearances and a lacklustre police investigation never really go anywhere and feel like padding in this unremarkable film.
For a film classifying itself as a horror, The Hollow Child feels much closer to a thriller than a fear-inducing, bone chilling flick. Even here The Hollow Child has little in the way of thrills until over an hour into the run time. In that respect, The Hollow Child feels like a tonally confused film, unsure whether to categorise itself as a horror or thriller and as such, winds up as neither. It’s a shame too as the saturated colour palette and eerie music at times certainly tick the right boxes but when you strip back the visual elements and look at the plot and characters, The Hollow Child feels like a hollow shell of a film, lacking the substance needed to make this anything but a forgettable horror flick.