May 14, 2018 The Hollow Child (Movie Review)
The natural world is still a mysterious thing. In order to progress civilization, a lot of the natural world had to be sacrificed. Progress has essentially damaged nature. It will never be known to what extent was lost, but what if something still exists; lurking in the shadows just waiting to find an opening to reemerge? That picture painted, The Hollow Child is a film exploring the shadows of the natural world and what can happen if it has the chance to walk out in the light. Nominated for several awards at film festivals, on Friday, May 18, 2018, it finally releases in theaters and VOD thanks to Vertical Entertainment.
The story begins with a young Alison (Mamie Laverock: This Means War 2012, When Calls the Heart series) and her little sister Janie (Laiken Laverock: ‘Tis the Season for Love 2015, The Flash series) playing in the woods. Janie goes missing for awhile, but eventually returns. Alison is the only one who thinks that her sister is no longer herself. She swears that something in the woods took her sister and replaced her with an imposter. She tries to burn their house down in order to get rid of her imposter sister. The only thing she gets for her efforts are severe burns to her own body and a stint in a psychiatric hospital. Thirty years later, Allison (Johannah Newmarch: Smallville series, Supernatural series) is known around town as the crazy lady. No one ever believed her.
Then there is Samantha (Jessica McLeod: Death Note 2017, You Me Her series), who is a troubled teenager. She has been bounced around foster families for awhile, but has never found a forever home. Currently she is living with her foster parents, Liz (Jana Mitsoula: Elektra 2005, Evil Feed 2013) and Garrett (John Emmet Tracy: Supernatural series, iZombie series). They also have a biological daughter, Olivia (Hannah Cheramy: Van Helsing series, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library 2017). Garrett has made it clear that he is not happy that Samantha is in their home, but Liz wants her there and tries to make her feel welcomed. They both expect Samantha to watch out for Olivia. Samantha does not do this, though. While walking home through the woods, she ditches Olivia to go hang out with her friend, Emily (Genevieve Buechner: Caprica series, UnREAL series). Tragedy strikes, and Olivia does not come home and is now missing.
Olivia does appear back home as mysteriously as she had vanished. Samantha vows to be a better sister to her. Her new goal becomes increasingly difficult as she realizes that Olivia is not the same as before she disappeared. Before Olivia was sweet and innocent, but now she is cold and a veil of darkness covers her. Samantha is the only one who seems to recognize something is not right. A chance meeting with Alison only confirms her suspicions as Alison warns her that Olivia is not what she seems. Logan (Connor Stanhope: Supernatural series, Smallville series), a friend with a crush on her, is the only person who seems willing to help Samantha figure out what really is going on with her foster sister.
Everything begins to fall apart. Bad things begin to happen with Samantha receiving the blame. Can she convince her foster parents that there is something wrong with Olivia? Is Alison right? Is Olivia really that dangerous? Is there really something in the woods preying on children? Or has Samantha’s extremely difficult life finally forced her to sever ties with reality? Does Olivia even need saving? If she does, can Samantha save her before it is too late?
The Hollow Child has many polar opposite characters. Samantha is a teenager who has already seen the worst life has to offer thanks to her junkie absent mother. As a result, it is difficult for her to form meaningful lasting bonds with anyone save for her long-time friend, Emily. Samantha feels that she is a damaged soul that does not deserve to be loved. She expresses this by cutting herself and keeping distance with people. Even though Liz and Garrett have provided her with her own room, she refuses to unpack her suitcase. It is as if she instinctively knows that like everything else in her life, this living situation is only temporary. It is not until Olivia goes missing that she realizes she does care about this new family.
It is not that Samantha is an unfeeling girl, rather she has already been hurt so much in her life she is forced to protect herself from any more pain. All she knows how to do is survive. Bad things happen to people and often the things that are perceived to have destroyed everything becomes a hidden strength. Her damage just might be the only thing that can save her and those around her.
In contrast, Alison had a good childhood. It was not until Janie disappeared and returned that anything out of the ordinary occurred. Both women are met with the same circumstances, only several years apart. Alison could not carry the weight of what was happening because she never knew what it was like to have everything in her life fall apart. She was not used to fighting for survival like Samantha is. The weight of the imposter took its toll on her in the form of perceived insanity. It is because of this, that Alison never really stood a chance of saving her own sister. In a way, the film explores how sometimes damaged people are more apt to handle extreme situations in ways those that are seemingly whole never could.
The Hollow Child also explores the idea of the natural world versus progress. Nature existed before man ever began cutting down trees and building civilization. No one really knows exactly what all existed before man intervened. Where there spirits living in the woods and were ultimately displaced because of progress? Are they now little by little exacting revenge in an effort to regain the control that was lost to humankind? The film allows the viewer to consider all that was lost in order for civilization to prosper.
All this said, Hannah Cheramy as Olivia is the breakout star in The Hollow Child. It is sometimes difficult for younger actors to accurately convey any type of darkness. Youth is often the culprit. Not enough life experience can make it difficult for them to pull from in order to give their characters the life they deserve. Cheramy does not seem to struggle with this. She successfully goes from the innocent happy child to a dark and sinister one effortlessly. She never breaks character. Even in the scenes that she is not speaking, it is obvious though her eyes which role she is portraying. Cheramy is absolutely a young actor with a bright future to watch out for.
Almost nothing can escape this life bathed in innocence. The natural world is damaged. People in general are damaged. A damaged thing can sometimes be extremely dangerous, but it can also be the catalyst to survival. The main question is which one has the most stamina for continuous existence. The Hollow Child explores this, as well as other deep topics while wrapped in the supernatural or other. Clever and thought-provoking, CrypticRock gives this film 4 out of 5 stars.