Wyoming County, an economic crumbling West Virginia area, is the destination for a work and romantic getaway for popular horror novelist Blake Blackman and his book cover illustrating mistress Angie. As Blake continues to struggle with writer’s block on his next book, Angie attempts to relax in a town that’s outside her comfort zone, but immediately diagnosis trouble as she believes she is witnessing a crime in progress and not just any misdemeanor violation, but a child being abducted, a third abduction that has plagued Wyoming County for the last 18 months. Angie follows the kidnapper to an isolated farm house where she’s captured and imprisoned in the basement for five months along with two caged young boys. Blake becomes prime suspect number one in the case, but after five months of no evidence and Blake not vacating Wyoming County as he searches for the woman he loves, the frustrated police department finally open to new leads from Blake’s obsession in locating Angie, even if his theories and circumstantial evidence are churned from out of a supernatural presence that surrounds itself around the malevolently insane child kidnappers.
From this reviewers stand point, the last Burt Reynolds’ film to cross these glossy green eyes was perhaps in the year of 2005 with “Legend of Frosty the Snowman” and, even then, Reynolds’ casting was just voice work. “The Longest Yard,” starring that ridiculing funny guy Adam Sandler, was the last live action film, but the films I recall of the handsome mustache charmer sticking to me like glue and always coming to the forefront of my sometimes fried brain isn’t always “Smokey and the Bandit” or “The Cannonball Run.” No, the films that stay with me are “Cop and a 1/2,” “Boogie Nights,” and “Strip Tease.” A guilty pleasure comedy and two adult comedy-dramas overwhelm the light-hearted and comedy action of the 1980’s favorites and, perhaps, solely becomes I was more conscious of films in the 1990’s. In either case, Reynolds’ in any of the noted films was this charismatic and larger than life figure. That’s not the case in the 2016 thriller “Hollow Creek.” Written and directed by Guisela Moro, with Steve Daronn credited as a writing collaborator, “Hollow Creek,” also known as “Haunting at Hollow Creek,” displays a much more humble Burt Reynolds whose weak physique and agitated temperament more closely resembles his 81-years on this Earth and even though the enduring actor has only about 5 minutes’ worth of screen time as the region’s wealthy owner of coal mines, the fading A-lister shares a headlining credit alongside costars Moro and Daron.
Filmmakers Guisela Moro and Steve Daron also star as the lead characters Angie and Blake Blackman. The two have well enough chemistry to pull off incognito lovers, but regress when unable to feed off each other when they divide for more than most the runtime as they’re pitted against their respective oppositions and fed their individual motivations. For Daron, the Burt Reynolds protégée succumbs to his character’s desperation and eagerness to locate his missing lover, showing an earnest fiery ambition and displaying a softer side whenever Angie is paired with him on screen. For Moro, I wasn’t sold on her performance that shifts into many different gears and taps into a wide range of unwarranted expressions and actions, but Moro’s directing herself and in that mindset, a narrow envision of how your character should react, behave, or carry themselves comes off a bit skewed and that’s more or less what happens in Ben Stiller directed-and-starring movies. If you’ve seen “Zoolander,” you know what I’m talking about. Alyn Darnay and Earleen Carey steal the show right under the noses of Moro and Daron with an unstable older couple trying to recoup thee the loss of their twin boys with the snatching of other people’s children and the pair dive into two very different hostiles with Darnay exposing his character, Leonard Cunnings, as a paranoid and psychopathic hand of the couple while Carey sails a softer, yet still deranged, side with trying to hunt down the perfect children for their unsuitable home.
Guisela Moro’s “Hollow Creek” succumbs to a lack of genre identity. Meaning, the 2016 film wasn’t constructed with one genre in mind, does it want to be a ghost film, an exploitation, and even Blake Blackman goes through his segmented drama of searching for his mistress in Wyoming Counter. There’s even a quotational introduction referring to children being abducted every 40 seconds in the United States. Without an identifier, plot holes rear their ugly little heads. For example, a hazy dynamic between Angie and a ghost of one of the dead kidnapped boys doesn’t seem to add up to the film’s ultimate conclusion when Angie has briefly passes into death and she shepherds the dead boy’s ghost to the great beyond, ending his Earthly torment. The whole scene is out of place and significantly unimportant as the two really never had an interaction with the exception of a pair of extremely brief moments, but in Angie’s moment on the other side, the two are the best of friends. The story was also inarguably one sided with much of Cunnings’ mental stability and criminal escapades of kidnapping three young boys falling shamefully by the waist side.
MVDVisual in association with FilmRise distributes the Guisela Moro directed “Hollow Creek” on DVD home video. The widescreen presentation is glorified by the lush West Virginia backdrop with intrinsic details in the greenery and the couples’ cabin, but darker scenes succumb to digital block interference and appears slightly washed over. Skin tones are a nice touch when in natural lens, but the back and forth between natural and a heavy blue filter, especially during scenes at the gas station, become a thorn in the side of continuity. Overall Jon Schellenger’s cinematography conveys a nice concoction of intrinsic beauty and hazy mystery. Audio quality pars well with some range issues that don’t really discourse the project. There are zero bonus features accompanying the disc. “Hollow Creek” flatters the Stephen King story telling imagination and Guisela Moro helms her first feature with rock solid determination with a touch of a cinematic spark that hooks you into the story, yet the unclassifiable stance mislays how the story is to be accepted, spooling an incomplete wash over Moro’s work as a whole. Still, “Hollow Creek” aims high and doesn’t miss and that’s the bottom line.