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The Hollow (2004)

Terror rides again.

Directed by:

Kyle Newman

Rating: 4/10

Running Time: 79 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: United States

Generally speaking, anyone with a pumpkin for a head is pretty difficult to take seriously – just look at Frankie Muniz. So the legend of Sleepy Hollow – despite being the subject of a pretty darn enjoyable Tim Burton effort back in 1999 – has never been one of my favourite horror yarns.

In case anyone doesn’t know, the original tale, as found in the novel by Washington Irving, is about said veggie-faced ghoul riding about on a horse chopping off the heads of all and sundry as he passes – until, that is, he meets his match in the form of the spindly Ichabod Crane. Leap forward a few generations and you have the setting for ‘The Hollow’, a modern day teen slasher update on the fable.

In this one, we have Kevin Zegers as Ian, a new kid in town who just happens to be a distant relly of good ol’ Ichabod. He instantly takes the fancy of excruciatingly bubbly High School cheerleader Karen (Kaley Cuoco), much to the chagrin of her wannabe boyfriend Brody (Nick “Backstreet’s back, ALRIGHT!” Carter). In a particularly uninteresting series of events, Ian soon becomes the school’s Pogo Patterson to Brody’s Gripper Stebson, with Carter doing his best to put his saccharine boy-band background behind him and convince us all that he can play the hard man as well as anyone, honest. Thankfully, all this faux ‘Dawson’s Creek’ nonsense soon subsides to make way for the nitty-gritty, in the form of the horseman’s re-appearance and the inevitable separation of heads from various bodies.

Running at less than 80 minutes, it’s mercifully short – but it makes for possibly the most one-dimensional flick I’ve ever seen, sticking rigidly to its linear formation and featuring not a single sub-plot. It’s also woefully miscast: Zegers’ face spends the whole thing alternating between disinterest and embarrassment (you’d think that if a ghostly horseman was trying to lop your noggin off, you might show a bit of emotion), Judge Reinhold (as Ian’s hard-to-please father) is far too likable a bloke to play the tyrant dad, and Nick Carter is – well – Nick Carter. I’m willing to bet that if you cut him open, he’d bleed thick, gloopy cheese spread. Of course, we’d need to pay someone to do it in order to find out for sure, but I’m pretty confident it would be well worth the hassle.

I’m all in favour of silly, ham-fuelled horror (I was particularly partial to last year’s Decoys), but one of the main problems with ‘The Hollow’ is that it can’t decide whether it wants to go down that route or attempt to have us take it seriously. As a result, it achieves neither, not managing to come across as daft enough to provoke a laugh, and nowhere near good enough to obtain credibility.

It's Got: Shelley Bennett playing a girlie who wants her boyfriend to “put the fun back in funeral” and “teach me the true meaning of boneyard” (the first joke works quite well, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what the second one means).

It Needs: To keep that horseman lurking in the shadows for longer. Let’s face it, as soon as we get to see him, all chance of any viewer shaking in their shoes goes out the window.

DVD Extras A trailer, and that’s your lot. Version reviewed: The Hollow [2004] DVD Extras Rating: 1/10

Alternatives:

Sleepy Hollow, Sleepy Hollow High, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (witty 1980 version with Jeff Goldblum as Ichabod!)

Summary

“Hollow” isn’t just the title of this movie – it’s also a pretty accurate description.

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