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Devil's Hollow

Critic:

Alasdair MacRae

|

Posted on:

11 Jun 2022

Film Reviews
Devil's Hollow
Directed by:
Chris Easterly
Written by:
Chris Easterly
Starring:
Shuler Hensley, David Dwyer, Skyler Hensley
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After a heist gone wrong, Bobby Hawkins (Shuler Hensley) spends over a decade in La Grange prison. Now, he is released to house arrest where he lives amicably. That is until he discovers that his estranged teenage daughter (Skyler Hensley) is being held hostage by a former criminal associate (David Dwyer).

 

Ah, the slow burn journey of a middle-aged man to perform one last redemptive act. He doesn’t want to have to resort to his old ways, but he must… for the greater good. Films like this are ten a penny but recently writers have been having fun with this trope, stretching the mould. Take Pig (2021) for instance, a career-best Nicolas Cage seeking out his kidnapped truffle pig in the seedy underground hospitality scene, an emotionally resonant thriller with twists that no one saw coming. Devil’s Hollow on the other hand plays it frustratingly safe. Maybe comparing it to the best in class is a little unfair but variation is how storytelling evolves and this seventy-seven-minute feature stubbornly refuses to experiment or diverge from a tired formula.

 

Everything about Devil’s Hollow is competent, but competence doesn’t make for entertainment. Almost every single scene is a conversation strictly adhering to the structure of establishing shot followed by shot, reverse shot etc. Even within that grounding, there is little to no experimentation with height or depth. Shuler Hensley and David Dwyer may be solid in their starring roles as protagonist and antagonist respectfully but there is a spark lacking to really push into tension or excitement. They seem too comfortable with the status quo, unwilling to venture into new territory.

 

Furthermore, the film seems disinterested in exploring its core themes. A discussion around incarceration almost makes it to the fore at one point, with the sad truth of Bobby being taught how to use a mobile phone. Momentarily it offers a chance for a commentary on society. Instead, it turns out to be Chekhov calling. Throughout are small glimpses of a connection between Bobby and his estranged daughter. To begin with, she doesn’t even know who he is, the most she remembers of him is a fleeting memory of harmonica music. In one scene, the closest we get to her becoming a character rather than a plot device, she reluctantly discusses reading with her father, but this richness is quickly snatched away. And of course, it wouldn’t be complete without a throwaway reference to drug dependency in rural America.

 

Overall, Devil’s Hollow is a thriller that lacks excitement and depth. It takes a wearisome paint by numbers approach and then makes you watch that paint dry.

About the Film Critic
Alasdair MacRae
Alasdair MacRae
Indie Feature Film