The trailer for Hallowed Ground caught my attention because a) it features a lesbian couple as the main focus, and b) it shows a bound shirtless dude being taunted by other men. I’m that easy.
When it was time to view the film, I didn’t even have to watch a minute of it to know that my immediate cringe of disappointment upon seeing the 117-minute runtime was warranted. That’s not to say there wasn’t something to enjoy here, but dammit DO NOT MAKE YOUR INDIE HORROR FLICK 2 HOURS LONG. It’s agonizingly self-indulgent because the end result never delivers 2 crucial hours of storytelling that viewers can’t look away from.
Not surprisingly, since the story focuses on a married lesbian couple staying at a cabin in the woods, the plot involves their orientation being reason enough for backwoods religious crazies to want to destroy them.
I’m thrilled that gay characters are becoming the main focus of horror storylines. Really, I am. But this plot—the go-to reason for gays to be subjected to horror—is exactly why I write gay horror novels that take place in a city void of any straight people. Gay horror needs to move beyond the idea that the only monsters gays must face are straight people.
But it is what it is, so expect a lot of dialogue about the hardships of being gay in a straight world and, on the flip side, just how vile and perverse straight people think gays are. That aside, the film injects some originality by making the conflict between the wives stem from the fact that one of them is bisexual. Also, the old geezer caretaker right out of Deliverance is refreshingly okay with them being gay and is the most likable character in the entire film.
The initial premise is a goody. The Native American woman who owns the cabin warns the girls to never cross the barbed wire border of the property, for the neighbors are dangerously territorial. Wouldn’t you know the dumb bitches take a hike, make out right next to the fence, and fall over it accidentally in the process.
This forbidden move sparks…a Hatfields and McCoys plot with a religious cult twist! Director Miles Doleac (Demons) plays the leader of the religious clan perfectly. He’s so good in fact that he makes sure there is loads and loads and loads of dialogue for him to deliver. His robed henchmen do nothing but stand around letting him hog the spotlight. There’s nothing ominous about them. Hell, they don’t even move or react when their leader is under attack!
Going into this one, just know that there are hints at a supernatural horror element stemming from the Native American side of things, but it never comes to fruition.
Hallowed Ground simply presents us with endless exposition through dialogue, failing to deliver any major tension or suspense. Even the few scenes of torture and sacrifice are too flat to satisfy any hardcore horror fans. And despite a lot of talk about a dragon lord that the cult worships, there is no hellish monster payoff—this is simply a bunch of religious kooks worshipping an imaginary god. After watching Demons and then this, I definitely see that this is the form of storytelling we can expect from Doleac’s work–flirtations with horror themes, but inevitably, it’s more about the characters than the creep factor.