Stars: James Harwood and Jerome Quiles
|This film was an official selection at the 7th annual International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival in Phoenix in 2011. Here's an index to my reviews of 2011 films.|
Two scientists walk into their laboratory for the umpteenth time, entirely familiar with their surroundings, moving through the routine steps they need to set up their new day, bickering at each other about their methodologies as they do so. Oli is the shorter one in the flying helmet that ought to look completely out of place but somehow fits with the delightfully analogue equipment with all its switches and dials. Charlie is the taller, more arrogant one who clearly believes he's in charge, whether he is or not. The word of the day is 'comfortable', but something is different and eventually they notice. There's some kind of burning vision at the end of a corridor, a sort of artificial sun that just sits there radiating light, waiting for them to notice it and start asking questions. 'What did you change?' Charlie asks Oli and they're off and running. What it is we're never really told, though it's apparently an unexpected overflow of their experiment to generate something. Its blinding light hides a doorway, which it has also metaphorically become.
Denton's chief inspiration was Shane Carruth's Primer. 'Seeing Primer for the first time was like a kick in the soul,' he wrote on the film's website as part of a larger explanation that's well worth reading. Each of the points he makes there stood out for me as major successes for the film. The unexplained science was appropriate, to the degree that Oli and Charlie appropriately mumble through their routine. Not showing 'the machine' was a great choice, but so was not explaining it. Something as unreal as this MacGuffin is rendered all the more realistic by the characters not focusing their dialogue for the audience's benefit. A collection of tech donated by a ham radio nut grounds the whole thing. Even the major omission Denton cites is spot on; I wondered why there were so few cables. Sure, the old tech would have been designed to house them, but not so the bigger or more modern equipment. There are flaws, as the staticky editing was certainly overdone, but it's powerful, if not a film for everyone. Let's see if it grabs you too.
The Hollow Men can be watched for free online at Vimeo in a 2012 edit called Who are the Hollow Men?