Hallowed Ground (2007)

Hallowed Ground (2007)

Evil unearthed

After she becomes stranded in a small town, a young woman discovers her arrival there was foretold a century earlier by the town’s founding preacher, who sacrificed human sinners by stringing them up as scarecrows in a bid to ward off the crows which were destroying the town’s crops. Unfortunately for her, she is an integral part of his impending – and terrifying – rebirth.

 

Yes, I came for the killer scarecrow on the cover too, although that may be potentially misleading. Hallowed Ground does contain a killer scarecrow but to say it’s the main focus of the film would be incorrect. A cross between the likes of Children of the Corn and The Wicker Man, Hallowed Ground is a competently made but inevitably bland horror which works well at times, not so well at others. Hallowed Ground is the a-typical horror film of the present time – looks good, contains some decent moments but inevitably covers no new ground whatsoever, simply opting to rehash old ideas and present them in a new form.

Hallowed Ground has decent production values with the cornfields and remote town setting being used to their full potential to build up the isolated nature of the film and add a bit of eeriness and atmosphere. You do get the sense that this small town is in the middle of nowhere and that whatever happens, the characters will on their own. The make-up effects are also pretty good. The scarecrow off the front cover looks great and some of the death scenes, whilst not glorifying themselves in explicit violence and gore, at least do the job that’s required of them. This isn’t a gore flick and there’s no need for them to be anything other than what they are. But the problem with the film is that is fails to deliver anything remotely worthwhile with these tools.

The story is so blatantly obvious from the get-go and the premise quickly outstays its welcome. The paper-thin story and big reveal is brought to the fore way too early in the film for it to be effective. Once the townspeople reveal to Liz the bigger picture of what is going on, the film has nowhere else to go except a tired routine of Liz escaping captivity, running off and then being recaptured. Even at a slender eighty minutes, the story seems stretched out too thinly and a little more build up would have gone so way in keeping the final third more efficient.

If there’s another part of the film that fails to deliver, it’s with the CGI special effects. It’s shoddy and the opening scene with the computer-generated bodies attached to the crosses in the field looks particularly awful. The scarecrow is also big player in the film during the first half but instead of keeping him confined to the shadows and creating a bit of suspense and mystery around him, the film is quite happy to show him off as much as it can. Case in point is the first time he’s introduced in the film – broad daylight in the middle of a field! We know that the scarecrow is only a guy-in-a-suit but showing him off in the sun kind of ruins the illusion that we were prepared to maintain. Even the actor behind the mask seems daunted by this fact, not really expressing any sort of physical terror or menace with his performance.

At this point, the film runs more like a slasher as the scarecrow takes care of a few people and stalks the heroine around the fields and then the town. But in a film of two halves, this slasher element is ditched in favour of something more The Wicker Man-ish and the pace of the film really begins to drag. Hallowed Ground becomes boring and it’s a pity because the cast do all they can to liven up proceedings. Jaimie Alexander is alright in the lead role. She’s likeable enough for you to get behind her but at no point during the film do you expect her to be harmed in any way. It makes all of the chasing around and threats from the townspeople seem superficial. The only other notable face in the cast comes in the form of Ethan Phillips, more famously known as Neelix from Star Trek: Voyager. He’s the slimy local priest and does reasonably well in his one-dimensional role.

 

Hallowed Ground should perhaps be more fittingly-titled Old Ground as that’s all it really does. Not only in rehashing old ideas but rehashing the same ideas over and over again in its short time. It looks good and has its moments but they’re too brief and fleeting to make an impression.

 

 ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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