Imagine this: the horror flick titled The Hollow has nothing to do with the Headless Horseman and has less Halloween holiday spirit than the thriller titled The Guest. Let’s take a look.
THE HOLLOW (2015)
Made for the SyFy Network, The Hollow has a typically generic SyFy movie template as far as the plot, but the production values are a bit higher. It’s actually a pretty fun creature feature if you’re just looking for a time killer and some cheap thrills.
It’s a good sign when the first thing we see on screen is a Jack O’ Lantern. We then get a good, gritty attack by an unseen monster in the woods. Yay!
Following that, we meet three young women who are heading to Shelter Island to stay with their aunt. It’s Halloween. The island appears to be deserted. Then they run into some bloody victims of some unknown threat.
The Hollow becomes wickedly routine as the girls learn about an old Halloween curse by witches burned at the stake…and are then chased around the island by a monster made of fiery sticks. That’s right. The witches return as the kindling that started their barbecue.
Not a witch–just a flying victim.
The film is loaded with cheesy, cheap scares. It’s one endless chase scene. And the monster is much cooler and better CGI than most creature feature monsters you usually see on SyFy. But don’t expect any trick or treaters. The Hollow doesn’t deliver that kind of Halloween spirit.
THE GUEST (2014)
Adam Wingard, the director of You’re Next, brings us this thriller that not only takes place completely during the Halloween season, but also has an old school 80s suspense film vibe, complete with a score reminiscent of John Carpenter’s work, and a soundtrack loaded with a fresh selection of 80s artists, including Stevie B., Xymox, Sisters of Mercy, Front 242, and Love & Rockets.
Sizzling hot Dan Stevens, who some may know from Downton Abbey, but who I prefer to remember from a role in Vamp (one of my favorite vampire comedies, which I blog about here), plays a military soldier who shows up on the doorstep of a family grieving from the loss of their military son. Dan served with the son, so the mother immediately becomes attached to him and invites him to stay with them.
Charismatic Dan, who is sizzling hot (worth repeating) becomes like an older brother to the son (Brendan Meyer of Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 462). Charismatic, sizzling hot Dan arouses the hormones of the daughter (It Follows girl Maika Monroe), as well as the hormones of her friend at a Halloween party together. Dan seduces the whole family. Dan is such a great protector and provider. He fights off kids bullying the son—including threatening a hate crime lawsuit when the son is called “faggot” in school. Dan helps carve pumpkins and prepare dinner. Dan walks around in nothing but a towel.
Dan also happens to be a psycho. People in the family’s life begin dropping like flies. And suddenly, the military is called in. Despite my loathing of the military being called in, it’s thankfully minimal here (just enough to up the body count and action) and led by Lance Reddick of the TV show Fringe.
Whoa! Halloween III: Season of the Witch flashbacks.
There’s something very mysterious about Dan’s character, but we’re totally left in the dark right up to the promise of a sequel at the bitter end. The old school “you can’t kill the boogeyman” horror finale goodness even takes place in a Halloween haunted attraction!