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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Hallowed Ground
Hallowed Ground
Other // Unrated // October 9, 2007
List Price: $19.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by David Walker | posted October 5, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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The Film:
True fans of horror films know what I'm talking about when I say that sometimes you gotta take it where you can get it. For those that don't understand what that means, it basically comes down to the fact that sometimes you need to be a bit flexible when it comes to your standards. Sometimes you just need to switch the brain off and keep your fingers crossed in the hope that you can satisfy your horror jones with some B-grade, direct-to-video schlock that stands a really good chance of sucking. Then you watch these movies, and you think that if it isn't scary, you hope that it will at least creepy; that if the story is bad, at least there will be some good gore. And if you get a film that is a bit creepy, with one or two decent gore effects, you find yourself mildly satisfied, because even though this isn't Dawn of the Dead, it is a horror flick. Hallowed Ground is one of these films.

The always easy-on-the-eyes Jaimie Alexander stars as Liz Chambers, a brooding young woman driving by herself cross-country. When Liz's car has mechanical problems, she is forced to pull over in the small town of Hope. Now, because we've seen the opening, pre-credit sequence, we know there is something sinister about Hope. But for Liz, Hope is just and odd town where everyone seems to be looking at her in a funny way. Liz gets a crash-course in the history of Hope when she meets Sarah (Hudson Leick), a tabloid reporter doing a piece on the sinister town. It seems that back in the late 1800s, the town was founded by a fanatical preacher, Jonas Hathaway (Nick Chinlund), who managed to keep the town's harvest bountiful by taking all the local sinners, dressing them up as scarecrows, and crucifying them, where their mournful shrieks of pain scare away all the crows. Legend has it that the corn fields are still haunted, which does not stop Liz from accompanying Sarah to the old homestead of Hathaway, where they quickly build a makeshift scarecrow for a photo shoot. But things take a predictably unexpected turn when the scarecrow, possessed by the spirit of Hathaway, comes to life and brutally kills Sarah. Finding Sarah nailed to a cross, with her lips ripped off, Liz freaks out--and rightfully so. But before she can really process what has happened, the scarecrow comes after her. Liz manages to make her way back to the sleepy town of Hope, but with the scarecrow hot on her trail--and did I mention unstoppable?--she becomes increasingly terrified. Things do get worse--as they are apt to do in films of this nature--when Liz discovers that the entire town has been awaiting her arrival, as it was prophesized by Hathaway over 100 years earlier. The religious fanatic townsfolk explain some mumbo jumbo about Liz giving birth to the new host body that will become home to Hathaway's soul.

Hallowed Ground is the sort of film you see sitting on the shelf at the video store, and you wonder if you should rent it. The answer to that question depends on how much you like cheesy horror films, and how much it costs to rent videos at the store of your choice; because while the film is not terrible (at least in the context of low-budget, B-movie horror flicks), it is not great cinema. If you are starving for a really good scary movie, Hallowed Ground is a lot like eating a kids meal from McDonalds--it curbs the appetite, but never quite satisfies.

The big problem with Hallowed Ground, not including the low budget or some of the cheesy CGI effects, is that it is one of those supernatural horror films with no sort of governing rules or logic that apply to the universe. Things happen with little or no explanation, and the audience is never supposed to ask any real questions. But at some point you find yourself asking all sorts of questions, because it often feels like writer-director David Benullo is making stuff up just for the sake of moving the story forward. Yeah, I know that this is just a silly horror film, but that doesn't excuse half-ass writing. In order for any horror film to be truly effective, you should never be asking yourself questions about exactly why this evil spirit needs to find a body to inhabit on this particular day, and why before dawn, and what will happen is he doesn't find one, especially since our heroine isn't pregnant, and would need at least nine months to grow the baby that will play host to the spirit--and that's if she gets pregnant in the first place. How do we know there isn't something wrong with her fallopian tubes? Was it explained in the prophecy what to do if the "chosen one" has uterus problems?

And trust me, these are the types of questions you find yourself asking while watching Hallowed Ground. I've been lucky in that I've stumbled across some pretty entertaining horror films lately. Films like Wrong Turn 2 and Reeker were surprisingly better than I had expected them to be. And to a certain extent, Hallowed Ground is better than I was expecting; but it still wasn't as good as quite a few other flicks out there. All of this is to say that if you're a fan of horror films, and have accepted the fact that sometimes you need to just be happy with what you can get, when you can get it, then Hallowed Ground will get you through the night.

Video:
Hallowed Ground is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture transfer is solid, but there was a moment early on when there seemed to be a bit of weird flicker. It was only for a moment, and I can't tell you what caused it. Other than that, the image quality is clean.

Audio:
Hallowed Ground is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. The disc has a good sound mix, with consistent levels throughout.

Bonus Features:
Other than a collection of horror trailers, there are no bonus features on this disc.

Final Thoughts:
Mildly entertaining, with a few great creepy moments, one solid gore scene, and Jaimie Alexander, Hallowed Ground has enough going for it to keep die-hard fans moderately amused.


David Walker is the creator of BadAzz MoFo, a nationally published film critic, and the Writer/Director of Black Santa's Revenge with Ken Foree now on DVD [Buy it now]
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