Review: 'Hollow in the Land’ is taut, efficient thriller
By KATIE WALSH | Tribune News Service | Published: December 8, 2017
Actress Dianna Agron is building a fascinating career. With Grace Kelly good looks, she broke out as the snobby cheerleader Quinn on the TV show “Glee.” But since that very teen pop project, every choice she’s made since has brought her further and further away from that blonde bombshell role. Agron has chosen stripped down indie projects, like the stripper love story “Bare,” this fall’s edgy nunnery drama “Novitiate,” and now, the lean Canadian thriller “Hollow in the Land,” which finds Agron at her grittiest yet. Written and directed by Scooter Corkle and set in British Columbia, Agron stars as a hardscrabble woman searching for her teen brother after he’s accused of a murder.
In their small town, their last name, “Miller,” is an automatic accusation of guilt. Alison (Agron), a factory worker, has been granted guardianship of her teenage brother Braydon (Jared Abrahamson), after their father hit and killed a local teen from a prominent family after committing a robbery. Braydon hasn’t been helping the family’s reputation with his delinquent behavior and brawling, and the siblings are counting the days until he turns 18.
One night, Braydon takes off with his pals, while Al settles in for a solo bender, spurned by her brother, and her lover. She wakes to a call from the police - Braydon and his girlfriend were caught in a compromising situation by her father, and after an altercation, Braydon’s gone missing and the father is dead.
“Hollow in the Land” is a story that revolves around small town gossip, rumor and innuendo. Like in “Twin Peaks,” a single dead body can reveal much more roiling below the placid surface in this seemingly sleepy hamlet. Pulling on the right thread just might unravel the whole mystery.
Hoping to prove her brother’s innocence, Alison starts her own DIY investigation, hoping to understand what happened that night and discover Braydon wasn’t responsible. As she chases down leads, trolling the local high school, crashing parties and digging up clues, the police are chasing her down too. Each discovery uncovers more and more layers of the mystery, as she comes to realize that this seemingly random situation is tied to the whole town, her family history, and is far deeper than she ever knew or suspected.
“Hollow in the Land” is a taut and efficient thriller that puts female characters front and center, and refreshingly boasts a streak of queerness too. Alison, tough, clad in Carhartt, prefers the company of women, which is understandable considering the violent, rough and manipulative men she encounters along the way. She’s smart and strong and the only one who puts together the conspiracy at the center of this murderous web.
It’s a one-woman show for Agron, and the film wouldn’t be nearly as compelling without her in it. It’s a rough neck Shakespearean tragedy that makes for a fine showcase for Agron, and proves a sharp directorial debut for filmmaker Corkle.
HOLLOW IN THE LAND
Cast: Dianna Agron, Jared Abrahamson, Rachelle Lefevre, Shawn Ashmore, Michael Rogers.
Directed by Scooter Corkle.
No MPAA Rating
Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes.
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Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.