HALLOWED GROUND ** USA 2019 Dir: Miles Doleac. 117 mins
Writer / director / co-star Miles Doleac needs an honest editor if this bloated horror picture is anything to go by, though the casting of his wife Lindsay Anne Williams in one of the lead roles gives the movie more gravitas and charisma than it probably deserves. The straight-talking Williams and her neurotic wife (Sherri Eakin) are taking refuge in a secluded cabin after Williams shook their relationship by fucking a male photographer. Eakin finds pathos in her role as a “cold fish professor” who grew up gay in the Bible Belt Deep South and feels particularly betrayed that it was with a man that Williams cheated. The audience already knows the refuge was a classically bad choice: a 19th century Mississippi prologue fills in some of the history of a “sacred space” owned by Native Americans and their long-held blood feud with a neighbouring clan. Williams and Eakin work hard to craft sympathetic characters with more depth than the genre usually allows, and their dynamic as a couple is convincing. Sadly, Doleac’s script drowns in exposition in the first half and offers a barrage of poorly defined male characters: the photographer guy shows up just to provide an extraneous threat; a stereotype local Sheriff happily picks on “degenerates” and the cultists at the story’s centre are so broadly played any potential suspense is diluted. The ritual-based climax goes on and on, hammering home the obvious themes of enduring misogyny and homophobia prevalent in Bible Belt America.
Review by Steven West