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HALLOWED GROUND is a peculiar little movie. Good camera work. Decent
actors. And dull as watching paint dry.
Somebody forgot that the first six letters in "thriller" are t-h-r-i-l-l. The object is to make people's pulses race, not to put the audience to sleep.
Elizabeth's car breaks down in a strange (and underpopulated) little town. She gets it to a garage, only to be told that the needed part can't be gotten until tomorrow. Stranded.
She goes to a diner and gets into a conversation with a tabloid reporter conveniently in town to do a story on strange events in the area many years ago. The reporter conveniently provides exposition establishing the main conflict that the story will cover.
And so we're treated to Elizabeth's adventures trying to escape a crazed cult. So we have a little CHILDREN OF THE CORN, a touch of THE Texas CHAINSAW MASSACRE, and a dash of those movies Hammer Studios made where Christopher Lee's cult got outsmarted by Peter Cushing. For seasoning add a cute little girl. But no original ideas involved.
This would have been a great thirty minute episode of Tales from the Darkside. But stretching it to feature length was just cruel.
This movie is fairly predictable, nothing that you will not be able to figure out rather quickly. However, there are a good couple of kills, and the flow of the movie is very fast. The story, gal gets stranded in a town with a bizarre past of a preacher using living scarecrows to scare off actual crows. He was subsequently killed by people in the neighboring town. Our stranded lady learns this from a reporter of a tabloid paper who is doing a story on the town. Some how they become best buds in what is essentially maybe an hour worth of time, I somewhat enjoyed this flick, but then it is not without some flaws. There is a scarecrow, and lots of religious nuts and we have quite a few chase scenes. The movie is not without its many faults though as it is a cheaply made direct to DVD movie. The opening features a horrible computer animated scene of a guy in a cornfield with crows and it looks awful, I was expecting a much worse picture from that scene as I hate computer generation that is completely unnecessary. How hard is it to find a cornfield and to put skeletons on crosses in it, I would wager not to difficult. The scarecrow angle was rather good then abandoned and forgotten near the end where we have a crappy looking crow attack. Still, it passes some time and I found it on the whole somewhat entertaining. Just do not expect to much.
Most reviews make this out to be horrid. I watched it because of Jaimie
Alexander and Hudson Leick. I wasn't expecting very much, especially
with plot keywords like "Killer scarecrow", and it's not my particular
favorite horror sub-genre.
In the end, it wasn't that bad. It was somewhat predictable, falling prey to many clichés of the genre. It had a couple twists to make it seem to break away though. Overall the acting was OK...some of the townspeople seemed a little cardboard, but the leads do a good job.
It could have done with a few less scenes of people running through cornfields, but at 83 minutes with credits, I think it needed all the time it could get. If you like Jaimie, it's a good view. While the storyline is a little generic, overall it is mostly put together well and better than some things out there.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Hallowed Ground starts out in isolated Midwest of the US where Liz
Chambers (Jaimie Alexander) has car trouble & breaks down, Liz manages
to make it to the small town of Hope where local mechanic Earl (Jim
Cody Williams) says he will have to order a part for Liz's car & she's
stuck there for the night. Liz heads over to the local diner & meets
newspaper reporter Sarah Austin (Hudson Leick) who is writing a story
about Hope's sinister past & it's evil founding Preacher Jonas Hathaway
(Nick Chinlund) who used to crucify sinners & leave them in the corn
fields so their anguished screams would scare away the Crow's who ate
the corn before Jonas himself was crucified & burnt by neighbouring
townspeople. Liz decides to join Sarah & they drive out to Jonas's
house where legend has it his evil spirit still lurks, as Jonas himself
prophesied he comes back from the dead to reclaim a new body for
himself & he needs Liz to provide a baby for him to possess...
Written & directed by David Benullo this originally premiered on the Sci-Fi Channel before going direct to video & isn't that bad a film I suppose but at the same time it's far from great, a mix of Children of the Corn (1984) & Rosemary's Baby (1968) if you can even begin to imagine such a thing Hallowed Ground passed 80 odd minutes harmlessly enough & it had one or two good ideas if nothing else. I did like the idea of crucifying someone & stringing them up in the middle of a cornfield like a human Scarecrow to let their screams of pain scare all the Crow's away but apart from the opening flashback it's an underused idea & the climax where the soul's of the murder posses the Crow's to dish out some justice is a nice idea too but again underused & a bit random & how did Liz know the Crow's were possessed anyway? At only one hour & twenty minutes long it has a good pace & never lets up but things start a bit quickly without much build-up, there's never any given reason why Liz is the chosen one or how Hathaway can possess a baby without it dying but not an adult or how the town of Hope was planning to get away with it especially after murdering the entire neighbouring town including the police force or even why the townspeople of Hope believed Hathaway's ancient prophecies. Character's are alright, the plot is alright & it moves along at a fair pace so I guess you could do worse but you could do better too.
For those who like to spot film mistakes there's a biggie at the end, when Liz & Sabrina are in that old dude's jeep listening to the radio look at the window next to them & you can clearly see the reflection of the camera filming them from the opposite side. There's a bit of gore, a few nails hammed through peoples hands, a pitchfork shoved through someones body & through someones throat. The first half of Hallowed Ground feels like a Halloween (1978) style slasher in which a Scarecrow novelty killer is running around bumping people off but thankfully the film abandons the killer Scarecrow idea & becomes a demonic possession flick. The Scarecrow looks alright if a little silly, although competent Hallowed Ground isn't that scary or atmospheric but it is well shot.
With a supposed budget of about $1,500,000 the production values are fine & it's quite a nice looking film although some of the CGI computer effects are poor as they are in most low budget films so Hallowed Ground isn't unique on that point. The acting is OK, Hudson Leick is quite good & brings some life to her character but she is killed off early on.
Hallowed Ground is a middle of the road direct to video low budget horror film that isn't terrible but at the same time just isn't that good either. If you actually think about it the script falls apart but at least it's short & provides a few decent scenes & a one or two nice ideas.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Compared to most of the dreck I've seen on the Sci Fi Channel, this
wasn't bad. It had descent production values, acceptable acting, and a
generally involving pace.
But as many other reviewers have pointed out, it's so ridiculously derivative that it's sometimes difficult to watch. CHILDREN OF THE CORN is definitely an inspiration. Creepy town. Creepy cornfield. Crazed zealots loose.
It's the climax that did me in, though. It was stolen verbatim from 1963's THE KISS OF THE VAMPIRE, although HALLOWED GROUND substitutes CGI crows for animated bats (and comes off the worse for it).
It's always frustrating to see a film with potential, particularly an independent film, fail to capitalize on its assets. An original idea is all that was needed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Hallowed Ground" is decent for what it is, but is hampered by it's
Experiencing car problems, Liz Chambers, (Jaime Alexander) finds herself stranded in a small-town along with reporter Sarah Austin, (Hudson Leick) who is doing a story about the area. Arriving at the spot, they come under attack from a mysterious scarecrow, forcing Sheriff O'Connor, (Brian McNamara) to rescue them. As the encounters between them start to grow, she soon discovers that there's something strange going on around the town involving the townspeople. Coming across Sheriff O'Connor, (Brian McNamara) who is also an outsider to the town, she is let in on the secret of the town, when a maniacal preacher a hundred years earlier had placed a curse on the town for their torturing and killing him to cover up his plan to sacrifice the locals to God for better crop production, and she's chosen to bear his seed to bring him back to life. Stuck in the town, she tries whatever possible to escape their clutches.
The Good News: This one here wasn't bad when it got some good parts to it. The main point in this one is the spectacular plot in here. Even with a soft spot for the dark-brutal-history-of-a-weird-town plot used in many horror films, the buried town secret set-up and the religious zealotry, along with the intriguing prophesying and general freakiness of the town's population makes the plot amusing. These are time-tested tricks which come into great play here and make it really chilling. It's also filled with a large amount of rather cool-looking scenes in here. The film hits the ground running with its approach, as right away, the mythology is tossed into the creepy mythology as we see a nutty preacher condemning some poor sap, and then, with no warning, with it's crucifixion time. Crucifixion scenes are pretty awkward and uncomfortable scenes, and this one slathers on the awkwardness of having a grown man nailed to a cross and planted in a cornfield. All semblance of terror is swept up with a cool sweeping shot of a series of crucified folks in a cornfield that is really impressive and unique. There's also an impressive scene of an apocalypse worth of crows towards the end, and there's a really nice aura given off by this sense. This one even has some nice action scenes, with enough shooting, house fires and a tater sacked mask scarecrow killer that eventually becomes unnecessary to the story. The film basically became a series of chase sequences involving the followers that want to impregnate her against her will. There's some nice gore in here as well, with plenty of nailed bodies to walls, pitchforks through the neck, a few impalings, some gunshots and more in here, leaving some rather nice views in here. Overall, this one here is better than expected but still decent.
The Bad News: This one isn't bad, but did have a couple of problems. The biggest one is that the story and setting weren't sufficiently scary and original enough to create a serious horror flick. Way too much of the time, the actions coming from the film have a sense which isn't original, thought provoking, or meaningful enough for anyone to care. This one contains a lot of parts, from the stranger just happening to break down in a town that just happens to have a prophecy concerning someone like them to come to the town right when they need them to is a little out-there as far as credibility goes, and it does make for some really groan-inducing moments. The Scarecrow, as a main character in the movie, comes to life and begins to seemingly terrorize the town. However, the fault lies in the fact to not to stick with the horror film staple of letting the audience create their own fear by keeping them in the dark. Instead, they present the scarecrow every chance they get. They generally show where he is and what he is doing at all times, which is usually standing around with a pitchfork waiting and stalking. The movie also betrays its one halfway decent chill, where the sight of blood on a minivan that knowingly contained a family. However, not too surprisingly, only the parents died, as the little kid managed to escape. Not enough movies have the balls to kill kids off on screen, but if you can't even bring yourself to kill one off-screen, then it really deprives of the sense of fear and dread. This one should've had the chance to offer up even more chills through it's ability to be that discriminate. These few flaws drop the film down somewhat.
The Final Verdict: Not all that bad, and having some good points to it, but too bogged down with it's clichés to come up as anything beyond the ordinary. Worth a look for passing interest fans, or for those with a special appreciation for these films, while the others would better off with a more traditional fare.
Rated R: Graphic Violence and Graphic Language
This is my first IMDb review, and I'll keep it short.
I watched this movie on the sci-fi channel during the never ending writers strike when nothing good was on TV. I expected it to be a poorly acted generic horror flick, which it was. The acting wasn't AWFUL, but it was far from good. The plot was really bland and predictable. It basically borrows from classic horror flicks (e.g. Children of the Corn) and doesn't contain much in the way of originality. Also, I am incredibly easily creeped out by horror movies, and this barely had an effect on me.
All in all, I wouldn't recommend it. It isn't scary, the acting and characters make you cringe constantly, and there isn't anything interesting about the story.
OK, let's start off by saying this is not "Halloween," "The Exorcist,"
or its ilk. It is B-Movie horror, which is fine. The people giving this
movie 1 out of 10 and whining about "bad CGI" obviously didn't bother
to look at the budget of the film ($1.5 million - considerably lower
than the classic horror blockbusters). Is it predictable? Of course it
is. So what? If you were expecting to sit down and watch a timeless
classic, you should have rented "Casablanca" or "The Wizard of Oz."
Ranting about bad acting (which, while not the best acting in the
world, is certainly not the worst) and bad directing (if you can do
better, let's see it), and claiming that anyone who gave it a good
review "obviously" worked on the movie (oh, you're omniscient now?)
makes for a really amateur review. If you didn't like the movie, that's
your opinion, but at least give actual examples of why you thought the
acting and directing were bad, and don't shoot off at the mouth
insulting reviewers who disagreed with you. Just because someone has
only reviewed one movie on IMDb doesn't automatically mean they worked
on that movie. Maybe they actually have a life and don't have time to
review five billion movies like some people apparently can.
Now, as I say, this isn't some high-caliber horror flick that is going to win an Oscar. It isn't meant to be. It is a fun suspense flick that makes for nice Halloween fare for a horror movie marathon. The plot isn't completely unique, but it is a decent concept of good vs evil. It utilizes the idea of someone perverting religion to suit his own needs, and we see the consequences of that - pure evil. We have a protagonist that is not perfect, but is overall a decent human being. The cinematographers make good use of lighting, though I would have liked to see more usage of angles to make the views more dramatic. I'm not sure why people are complaining about "bad CGI," since there is very little CGI used in the film, and it is certainly not needed. People have become far too dependent upon seeing flashy SFX in order to be entertained. The acting is sometimes a little stilted, but for the most part, the emotion is raw and realistic.
The important thing to remember is that this is low-budget horror meant to entertain horror fans. If you don't "get it," that may be why. If you are used to only going to the movies to see lots of blood, explosions, and cleavage, with everything neatly wrapped up so you don't have to think, then this movie isn't for you. Not everyone is going to enjoy these types of movies. Insulting those who do doesn't make you a good reviewer, though, it just makes you immature.
Hallowed Ground was neither a good or great movie. In my eyes, I'd say it was mediocre. I did like the stylish camera work, there are some haunting moments in the score, the acting is decent considering what they had to work with and there are a few good ideas in the mix. On the other hand, while not bottom-of-the-barrel awful, the effects do still have a rather cheap look to them, the scarecrow is alright but not as menacing as he should be as a result. The characters are clichéd and not really that engaging and the script has a rather stilted nature about it, but the biggest let down was the story, which promised much but was too derivative and dull in alternative to thrilling and atmospheric. All in all, not good and disappointing but not as bad as some have made out. 4/10 Bethany Cox
The film honestly isn't that outstanding, but I do give credit to the cast members, Jaimie Alexander,Nick Chinlund, and Chloe Moretz, they made the film bearable, Chloe being at such a young age did splendidly. About the film itself, it is nothing less of mundane sci-fi film.We have all seen the film before, crazed man back from the dead, goes on killing spree. The only twist being this one was a preacher, and he was a bit beyond insane when it came to sacrificing to "God" to keep away crow that had infested his fields. All in all it isn't a bad movie, but could have been much better, particularly the highly unbelievable CGI crow. I give the film a 7 out of 10, and that is being highly generous.
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