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The Hollow Men

average rating is 5 out of 5


Joe Beck


Posted on:

Feb 18, 2023

Film Reviews
The Hollow Men
Directed by:
Daniel Bingham
Written by:
Daniel Bingham
Rhys Anderson, Ryan Stoddart, Mackenzie Paterson

Daniel Bingham’s ‘The Hollow Men’ is a taut Scottish thriller, one which juxtaposes humanity against pure evil to pose sincere moral questions around an exhilaratingly tense depiction of violence. There’s almost an air of Michael Mann’s excellent ‘Collateral’ in its juxtaposition of two sides of man and its probing of the human condition, replacing the shining lights of Los Angeles for the solitude of the Scottish landscape.


Bingham’s impressive direction immediately creates a heightened sense of tension, as we are introduced to Ellis (Rhys Anderson), eyes focused on the road and sat in silence as he listens to Kane’s (Ryan Stoddart) story of a memorably gruesome murder which he carried out. At first we assume that Ellis is but a harmless driver, his meek eyes and nervous face certainly suggest that, and compared to Kane he certainly appears innocent. Kane’s story is chilling and perfect in establishing the coldness of his character, as he describes killing a family as though it were merely an everyday chore.


Nevertheless, as the two reach their destination we discover that Ellis is also a paid killer himself, and it is he who is approaching a reckoning with his target, Sonny (Mackenzie Paterson). Ellis’ doubts get the better of him as he approaches Sonny, giving Sonny the opportunity to dash away as Ellis slips on the rocks. When he wakes he finds himself captive and with Sonny pointing a gun at his head.


However, Sonny shows humanity to Ellis’ troubled soul, offering food - a guttered fish in an obvious comparison to Kane’s description of ruthlessly guttering a woman like a fish. Where Kane is pure evil, a merciless killer intent solely on causing the death of others, Sonny is compassionate, despite a troubled past, and demonstrates to Ellis the errors of his ways, providing a path for redemption.


Bingham’s directing is wonderful in filling each scene with tension, and each shot is framed pitch-perfectly. He understands the troubled mind of Ellis and though the characterisation of Kane and Sonny may be broad, it is nonetheless effective in reflecting the warring thoughts in Ellis’ mind. Each line of dialogue is laced with subtext effectively and aids the performances of the entire cast, who all impress with the subtleties in their performances. Anderson in particular is excellent, conveying Ellis’ confusion through just the slight changes in his face and the movement of his eyes. Similarly, Mackenzie Paterson is endearingly warm as the softly spoken Sonny, given some of the film’s finest lines of dialogue in his conversation with Ellis. Ryan Stoddart has a very different task as the overconfident murderer Kane, yet is a formidable and chilling cold presence throughout who takes over the screen whenever he’s on camera.


The icing on the cake of ‘The Hollow Men’ is its conclusion, which is decidedly excellent in its coldness. It is a fine finish to a wonderfully refreshing thriller. High on tension and posing a searching philosophical question, the film acts as a showcase for Daniel Bingham’s immense talent both directing and screenwriting. Though its title may proclaim to be hollow, ‘The Hollow Man’ is anything but.

About the Film Critic
Joe Beck
Joe Beck
Short Film
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