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HALLOWS GROVE (2014)
aka ORPHANAGE: THE HAUNTING
Directed by Craig Efros
Written by Craig Efros
Starring Mykelti Williamson, Lance Henriksen, Matthew Carey, Sunkrish Bala, Bresha Webb, Val Morrison, Matt Doherty, Eddie Perez, Gary Sievers, Tanc Sade, Lindsey Smith-Sands, Haley Lyn Gilchrist
Find out more about this film here!!
I had a chance to catch up with HALLOWS GROVE, a found footage film that I missed out on back when it was released in 2014. While the film doesn’t break any new ground in terms of found footage milestones, it does offer up a solid story, authentic scares, and some fun cameos. Let’s see how it stacks up to my found footage questionnaire.
What’s it about?
HALLOWS GROVE follows a team of paranormal investigators known as S.P.I.T. (Spirit and Paranormal Investigative Team) as they check out a haunted children’s hospital with a tragic history of sickness, neglect, and murder. A friend of the group films a behind the scenes documentary, filming the filmmakers as they encounter strong paranormal forces. This team really doesn’t count on finding anything and hires a special effects man (Lance Henriksen) to rig up the hospital with scares to spice up the video. What they don’t know is that the horrors they are encountering are deadly and real.
Are the actors successfully acting like they aren’t acting?
There is a very natural flow to the acting in HALLOWS GROVE as the guys and gal are constantly goofing on one another and making fun of the situations they were in. The joking around threatens to get annoying, but just when I had enough of it, the real supernatural stuff starts happening and the jokes stop almost immediately. None of the actors feel like they are trying too hard and really feel pretty natural. The only issue I had was with the casting of Lance Henriksen and Mykelti Williamson. It’s great seeing these actors, but I think found footage works best with actors you haven’t seen before. Seeing these familiar faces sort of took me out of the movie for a bit. Thankfully, they only have small roles.
Does the footage found seem authentic and untouched by additional production (which means there is no omniscient editor making multiple edits between cameras or an invisible orchestra providing music)?
Everything is presented authentically. Williamson appears as an FBI agent at the beginning of the film stating that this footage was recovered at the crime scene among the bodies of the crew and pieced together to make sense of what went on. That’s all that is needed to make this film look and feel like it is actual raw footage. There are not a lot of edits and no intrusive music or sound effects. All of it lends to the illusion that this footage is authentic.
Why don’t they just drop the camera and get the hell out of there?
At first, the crew is fascinated with what is going on and believing that the weird happenings are the works of their special effects guy, they aren’t really alarmed. Later, things move so fast that it didn’t really bother me that they were still filming, even though the cameraman is warned to not stop filming multiple times.
Is there an up-nose BLAIR WITCH confessional or a REC-drag away from the camera?
Nope, this one doesn’t really rely on those cheap clichés. And it’s a better movie for it.
Does anything actually happen? Is the lead in too long and the payoff too short?
Between the rapid fire goofball antics of the crew from the beginning to the increased threat of potent scares as the film reaches the end, HALLOWS GROVE keeps the pace even and strong all the way through. This spooky stuff presents itself at just the right time and never lets up.
Does the film add anything to the subgenre and is it worth watching?
HALLOWS GROVE isn’t going to set the world on fire, but it is a very well made found footage film. It looks and feel authentic, despite the appearance of recognizable stars, and has quite a few potent scares and seamless CG effects. I especially liked the appearance of the ghost of a little slasher girl that shows up close to the end. Her makeup and costume design are nightmarishly effective. The film tries to keep most scares within the frame and there is very little CG work. Nevertheless, it succeeded in being entertaining all the way through and is one of the more effective bare bones found footagers I’ve seen.