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(aka "Dunwich" )

 

directed by Michael Axelgaard
UK 2011

 

The East Anglia police discover four corpses hanging from the "Suicide Tree" in Grayfriar's Hollow - in a village named Dunwich for no particular reason - with only a video camera to tell the story of the last days of Emma (Emily Plumtree), her fiance Scott (Matt Stokoe), her childhood friend Jimmy (Sam Stockman), and his girlfriend Lynne (Jessica Ellerby). Packing away her late grandfather's - the local vicar - belongings in preparation for the sale of his Suffolk cottage, the quartet - as recorded by Jimmy's omnipresent camera - also find time to play strip poker, spy on each other, needle one another (over Jimmy's attraction to Emma, Scott's attraction to Lynne, Emma's jealousy of Lynne), and do drugs. Among the vicar's belongings, the group discover records of a string of recent suicides of young couples who hung themselves at the hollow tree, as well as a legend dating back to medieval times (and a 1983 exorcism of the tree) about a malevolent spirit that drives visitors to the tree to evil deeds. The fractious quartet do not seem in need of a supernatural force to destroy each other, but an ill-advised coke-fueled "exorcism" of the tree (with vodka substituting for holy water) may have marked them for certain death as night falls again.

Touted as "the British BLAIR WITCH" on the DVD cover, HOLLOW's combination of a local legend and the underlying tensions of a group of close friends recalls the recent A NIGHT IN THE WOODS, another British "found footage" entry which utilized a Dartmoor legend of a hangman as the backdrop for a bickering trio getting what they deserve. The Suffolk location - also M.R. James' chosen setting for "A Warning to the Curious" - is rich in picturesque ruins and vast desolate landscapes which are better exploited here than its local legends. As well made as the film is, the "less is more" approach has become a bit too overdone in "found footage" films (out of necessity); that doesn't mean the genre's usual narrative and aesthetic elements cannot still be unnerving, but the stacking up of suspicious incidents towards a mounting sense of dread (instead we pass the time with creepy behavior of the voyeuristic camera-carrying character (here the least likable despite stiff competition) while knowing that it will all end with much running through the woods and screaming (alternating between cries of other characters' names and "Fuck!"). That said, the climax with the shrinking cast of characters taking shelter in the broken down Range Rover with the on-camera light (its battery dying) failing to illuminate the pitch black night outside the windows is very tense until it seems as if the characters would rather get out of the car and face certain death rather than remain inside with the basket case of a heroine. HOLLOW ends up being a better-than-usual "found footage" time-waster as well as an economic debut feature (in a genre still viable for limited screenings, DVD/Blu-ray, and streaming markets) for director Michael Axelgaard (whose only previous credit is a short film with HOLLOW's writer/producer Matthew Holt).

Eric Cotenas

Theatrical Release: 25 January 2013 (UK)

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DVD Review: Metrodome Pictures - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

Metrodome Pictures

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:31:00 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.78:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.52 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English Dolby Digital 5.1; English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Metrodome Pictures

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Start-up trailers for STAKE LAND, GRAVE ENCOUNTERS, and LOVELY MOLLY

DVD Release Date: 28 January 2013
Amaray

Chapters 12

 

Comments

Metrodome's single-layer disc is probably a good SD representation of this film since it is difficult to discern if the encoding or the original low-light videography is responsible for the noise and compression artifacts (although shot in HD, this is also a "found footage" film so video imperfections in the original photography as well as those added in post are usually part of the texture). Although a Dolby Digital 5.1 track is available, the cover only mentions a stereo track and the disc defaults to the 2.0 option. No extras are included other than three start-up trailers.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

Metrodome Pictures

Region 2 - PAL

 




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