Film Review: HOLLOW IN THE LAND (Canada 2017) ***

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Hollow in the Land Poster

A woman with a troubled past sets out to find her missing brother.


Scooter Corkle


Written and directed by Scooter Corkle, this moody crime suspense thriller uses the backwoods of British Columbia as the new underbelly of the inner cities for the backdrop of the story.  The nearby town is a paper pulp town that prospered from the local timber industry.

When the film opens, a bar brawl has just taken place.  Brandon (Jared Abrahamson from HELLO DESTROYER) has to be bailed out of jail by his sister, Alison (Dianna Agron).  Alison tells him that she has had enough and cannot keep doing this, while Brandon claims he is doing his best.  This no win situation gets worse, when Brandon gets caught, in what has been described by the unsympathetic local sheriff (Michael Rogers) ‘in a mid-fuck’ by his girl’s father, whose body has just been found.  Brandon, who is now chief suspect goes missing.

Alison is not a liked character in the local town.  She is known to be having a same-sex relationship with Brandon’s girl’s mother.  Whether the lesbian relationship is necessary in the story is questionable, as there is enough already going on in the film.

If the story all sounds quite straight forward, the story is actually quite difficult to follow in the film.  For one, it is only a third through the film that it is revealed that Alison is Brandon’s elder sister. It is natural to assume that Alison is Brandon’s mother at the start.  It is then confusing if the affair Alison is having is with the girl’s mother or maybe the girl’s sister.  Other identities are also blurred.  One wonders if it is the intention of writer/director Corkle to keep the audience on their toes to decipher the story or if it is unintentional.  The time setting of the story is also left unclear.  There are clearly no cell hones used at all in the film, but one could argue that no one needs one in the backwoods.

Though HOLLOW IN THE LAND is a nitty gritty drama set in a male dominated town, it is more of a feminist film. Corkle is a Not only is the protagonist female, but the story leans towards the female in more ways that one – including the lesbian relationship and all the other strong female characters, which is good given the way females are so less represented these days in film.  (The director Corkle is male.)  But that does not mean that all the male characters have to be weak ones, like the characters of Brandon and their father (who is ono shown at the end, of the film, with one tooth missing.)

To director Corkle’s credit, the atmosphere of dread, terror and suspicion are effectively created in the moody film.  The audience is also kept on their toes from start to end, and the film builds to a satisfactory climax.  It also helps that Agron delivers a power-packed performance as the reluctant heroine.

HOLLOW IN THE LAND ends up a better than average atmospheric thriller with well developed characters that the director makes sure the audience cares for.


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