Hallowed Ground

ON

Coming to DVD Tuesday, Oct. 9th

Cast:

Jaimie Alexander as Liz Chambers

Brian McNamara as Sheriff

Chloe Moretz as Sabrina

Nick Chinlund as Jonas Hathaway

Hudson Leick as Sarah

Ethan Phillips as Preacher

Jim Cody Williams as Earl

Ned Vaughn as Deputy Mark Simmons

Directed by David Benullo

Review:

Take a look at your CD collection, and you’re bound to find more than a few discs that you consider “background music;” an album you never listen to except while doing chores or something. Well, “Hallowed Ground” is what you might call a “background movie.” There’s nothing particularly horrible about it (other than a ridiculous CGI cornfield early on, which proves why you don’t often hear the term “CGI cornfield”), but there’s nothing engaging about it either. You could probably leave the room for 15 minutes, come back, and not really feel you’ve missed anything.

In a prologue featuring a wasted Nick Chinlund, we learn that the town of Hope has a bad crop season, and thus sacrifices “sinners” to God in exchange for healthy crops. But one year this perfectly reasonable plan fails to work, so Chinlund is sacrificed instead. Flash forward 100 years or so, and we meet Liz (“Rest Stop’s Jaimie Alexander), who is on a cross-country trip. Within seconds of her introduction, she becomes the 1635664th character in horror movie history to suffer a suddenly malfunctioning car, stranding her in a strange small town in the middle of nowhere. After meeting an overly nice and helpful exposition dealer in the form of a Chicago reporter named Sarah (Hudson Leick), the pair begin to investigate the town’s past.

Before long, the reporter is dead, and Liz is being hunted by both a murderous scarecrow, as well as the townspeople who want to use her (or, to be specific, her womb) for their next sacrifice. Because of a tattoo on her back, they believe her to be some sort of Virgin Mary, who will give birth to a child that will allow them to resurrect their fallen leader. Liz of course, is not really interested in helping them out, and so begins an endless series of capture > escape > evade > re-capture sequences. There are occasional cogs in the wheel, such as the town sheriff (Brian McNamara) who doesn’t share the town’s beliefs (or so he says), and a never explained “massacre” of some of the townsfolk, but they are few and far between. Even at a scant 75 minutes (not counting the credits), the film drags far too often.

Part of the problem is that the Scarecrow never really appears very menacing. He’s obviously just some lazy actor in a mask, never once giving off the impression that he is a true supernatural force. And perhaps the filmmakers realized this, since he basically disappears from the film’s 3rd act as the evil townsfolk take center stage. Unfortunately, they’re far from terrifying themselves, as they spend their time spouting nonsensical “bible” passages and engaging in incredibly lax pursuit of Liz (at one point, she’s escaping out a window of a tiny room, and one guy says to the other “She’s getting away!” rather than take 3 steps forward and stop her). Also, since all they want to do is impregnate her, there’s not really much at stake when they chase her around. Even if she WASN’T the only person to root for, it’s not like they are going to do her any real harm if they need her healthy enough to carry a child.

To be fair, the film’s production value is above average for this type of junk, and the high def footage looks quite good. And Alexander comes off much better here than in “Rest Stop,” where she played such an unlikable (and stupid) person that it became a lot easier to just side with the killer. But the script isn’t worth their efforts. I would pity the director for being saddled with such a poor writer, but they are the same guy (David Benullo).

In the end, the film is like a scarecrow itself – it might scare some lesser beings, but anyone of moderate intelligence would know better and not pay any attention to it.