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Hallowed Ground

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Say what you want about Miles Doleac’s cinematic output, but
there’s no denying the man’s a filmmaking machine. His
less-than-a-decade-long resume already boasts over two dozen
credits. He writes, produces, directs and acts in his films. I
reviewed – and rather enjoyed – his 2016 crime/drama/mystery
hybrid The Hollow, which starred a plethora of
B-movie thespians and paid homage to sleazy, sweaty exploitation
flicks of yore. Doleac’s ambition to become the next Robert
Rodriguez is quite apparent.

Hallowed Ground sees Doleac boldly venture into
horror – the psychedelic, Satanic kind; the kind another current
multi-tasking auteur, Ben Wheatley, is known for (see: the
brilliant Kill List). Sadly, it’s a major step back
for Doleac. Without the support of screen veterans to help propel
his preposterous feature into the pantheon of “so bad they’re
good” movies, the filmmaker’s left with hammy acting and a
threadbare, repetitive narrative, 90% of which is exposition. Nary
a moment rings true, nary a moment elicits anything close to chills
or dread – or, at the very least, unintentional laughs.

“Married couple…decide to rekindle their deteriorating
relationship by staying in a cabin that’s located smack in the
middle of a sacred Native American site…”

After an intriguing opening that takes place in Mississippi,
1889 –  and involves a gruesome decapitation/skinning by a
claw-handed Native American shaman – Doleac hurriedly cuts to the
much-less-intriguing present. Married couple Vera (Sherri Eakin)
and Alice (Lindsay Anne Williams) decide to rekindle their
deteriorating relationship by staying in a cabin that’s located
smack in the middle of a sacred Native American site. I’d say it
were a good thing that Vera studies Native American burial grounds,
but her academic research clearly proves insufficient, as next
thing they know, the young women are trapped on the titular
“hallowed grounds” for exactly 48 hours (Satan’s stopwatch
happens to be highly accurate, in case you’re wondering).

Doleac stuffs a lot into the narrative, yet curiously, none of
it resonates. There’s the land proprietor, Nita (Mindy Van
Kuren), whose sole role is too blankly reveal things about her
cursed ancestors to our leads. There’s the lil’ hick boy with a
dead cat called Lonny (Scott Bolster), who are taught to crucify
people and skin troublesome cats. There’s Bill (Doleac),
Lonny’s tutoring father, who’s also the sheriff, who’s also
the leader of a local satanic cult. There’s Thatcher (Jeremy
Sande), Alice’s loathsome ex, who comes into the picture spitting
lines like, “Have you ever fucked a camera?” There’s torture,
caning, human sacrificing, and a spirit-like being, named The Bone
Picker for “peeling flesh from bones.” Oo-kay.

“There’s torture, caning, human sacrificing, and a
spirit-like being, named The Bone Picker…”

None of this makes a lick of sense, Doleac failing to tell a
coherent story, sustain momentum, or generate suspense. Even
gore-hounds with low expectations won’t find a lot to savor here
– apart from several relatively shocking images. The film’s all
bark and no bite. What’s worse are its tacked-on, lousy stabs at
relevance, its pseudo-subversive protagonists’ trivial
discussions of prejudice, the sexuality spectrum and infidelity
inducing perhaps the film’s only (weak) laughs. It certainly
doesn’t function as a statement about Native American oppression
either.

The leads’ leaden line delivery doesn’t help matters – not
that the lines they deliver could be delivered in any sensible way.
“I’m under the opinion that you don’t need to talk in order
to communicate, I want to fuck you,” Alice proclaims at one
point. “I don’t know what’s more emotional than betrayal,”
Vera retorts later. “The ancestors know the character of
souls,” Nita explains nonsensically. “There is no peace here,
only fire and blood,” Doleac’s Bill the Cult Leader rasps, as
the ludicrous antlers on his head bob furiously. The dialogue’s
so dreadful, the film almost becomes a parody of itself, its
solemnity and dullness, unfortunately, preventing it from
happening. Ritchie Montgomery’s Sandy – a tractor-driving,
scruffy old man who guards the sacred land with his rifle –
could’ve been the film’s mere saving grace, but even he gets
swept up in the final act’s whirlpool of gibberish.

Maybe Doleac should scale back on the multitasking and take a
moment to recharge. Yes, he’s a one-man filmmaking factory –
and he’s surely shown promise before – but with missteps like
this, he won’t be stomping the hallowed grounds of his revered
peers anytime soon.

Hallowed Ground (2019) Written and Directed by
Miles Doleac. Starring Miles Doleac, Ritchie Montgomery, Sherri
Eakin, Michael Randall, Lindsay Anne Williams, Jeremy Sande,Creek
Wilson.

3 out of 10

Read more: filmthreat.com

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