'Hollow in the Land': Film Review

Hollow in the Land Still - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of Vertical Entertainment
Agron delivers a compelling turn in this atmospheric backwoods mystery.

Dianna Agron plays a woman desperately trying to clear her younger brother of murder in Scooter Corkle's thriller.

Never mind the inner cities. The backwoods of Canada are far more dangerous and violence-strewn, if Scooter Corkle's debut feature is to be believed. Starring Dianna Agron as a young woman desperately searching for her missing younger brother accused of murder, Hollow in the Land traffics in familiar rural thriller territory, but it features an excellent performance from its lead actress and a strong atmosphere of moody tension courtesy of its writer/director.

Agron plays Alison, who makes a hardscrabble living working at a pulp mill, the town's main industry. She's raising her trouble-prone teenage brother Braydon (Jared Abrahamson) herself, since their mother abandoned them years earlier and their father is in prison after killing the mill owner's son in a drunk-driving incident.

The day after Alison picks up Braydon when he's been arrested for participating in a drunken brawl, his girlfriend's father winds up murdered. His body is discovered in a trailer park not long after he walked in on Braydon having sex with his daughter (Sarah Dugdale) and a fight ensued. Braydon, who inevitably become the chief suspect, promptly disappears, leaving Alison to search for him while attempting to discover who else might have committed the crime. Her investigation attracts the ire of the hostile local sheriff (Michael Rogers) as well as the townspeople, several of whom also wind up dead under mysterious circumstances. As a result of her hard-headed approach, Alison winds up as a murder suspect herself.

The film's complex, conspiracy-strewn narrative proves less interesting than its characterizations, including Alison's supportive police officer friend (Shawn Ashmore) and her female lover Charlene (Rachelle Lefevre), who happens to be the mother of Braydon's girlfriend and the murder victim's ex-wife. Alison's lesbian relationship, which doesn't endear her to her small-town neighbors, is depicted in casual but frank fashion. The film features strong female characters in general, including several women who wind up assisting Alison in her investigation. Agron, who has made admirably adventurous screen choices (Bare, Novitiate) since her breakout role on TV's Glee, delivers a compellingly gritty performance as the determined, emotionally damaged heroine.

Hollow in the Land further benefits from its rustic British Columbia locations, superbly captured for maximum bleak effect by cinematographer Norm Li.

Production company: Savath Pictures
Distributor: Vertical Entertainment
Cast: Dianna Agron, Shawn Ashmroe, Rachelle Lefevre, Jared Abrahamson, Michael Rogers, Brent Stait, Sarah Dugdale, Jessica McLeod, Glynis Davies
Director-screenwriter: Scooter Corkle
Producers: Marlaina Mah, Jesse Savath
Executive producers: Chris Ferguson, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Daniel Levin, Al Sebag
Director of photography: Norm Li
Production designer: Danny Vermette
Editor: Aynsley Baldwin
Costume designer: Ariana Preece

100 minutes