What Survive The Hollow Shoals boasts in relentless shock tactics it lacks in subtlety, credibility, plot and characterisation. This is exactly how found footage horror should not be done.
Jonathon Klimek’s poor entry into the found footage horror film genre is not without its merit. The relentless shock tactics display a talent for formulaic thrills that superficially unnerve, undoubtedly satisfying those seeking consistent jump-out-of-your-seat moments. But the unsettling sight of our protagonist’s greasy-haired female stalker suddenly appearing in frame with another animal-like roar lacks the subtlety needed to feel like anything but a staged exercise in cut and paste haunted house cinema.
Indeed, Survive The Hollow Shoals has a number of fundamental flaws that ensure our sympathies are ejected and any emotional investment is lost. That’s largely because it fails to present authenticity, its overproduced sound effects not only limiting the impact of what is supposedly amateur footage found by a search and rescue team but, in many cases, feeling out of sync with the environment and the perceived threat.
What we get is a collection of moans, groans and screams that are so clearly shoehorned in courtesy of post-production that even when the film’s scare tactics intermittently work, the knowledge that you’re watching a piece of fiction by a filmmaker pulling the strings is totally damning. I’m still wondering why – or how – supposedly undoctored video footage of a man who has disappeared features a sound effects composition tailored specifically to every scary encounter with his perceived pursuer. Perhaps there was a camera-shy orchestra out there with him?
That complete lack of authentic ambient noise makes the environment – which sees a middle-aged man challenging himself to spend 60 days in the woodland wilderness with nothing but a drinks canister, knife and camera – unthreatening. This is compounded by poor writing as actor Brent McGhee as Zack Weiland is saddled with muddled characterisation, his own limitations as a performer hindering things further.
At one point Zack says this is “absolutely miserable, this is no fun at all” which is an apt description of Survive The Hollow Shoals. Lacking the tangibility and structure of the best found footage horror films, Klimek’s misguided attempt is a perfect indication of how not to approach the genre. Instead, it’s a junior film school project testing a student’s use of the horror movie sound effects archive that barely deserves a pass grade.
Written by Dan Stephens
Directed by: Jonathon Klimek
Written by: Jonathon Klimek
Starring: Brent McGhee, Brittany Baise Morrison, Ashley Mulkey
Released: 2018 / Genre: Found Footage Horror
Country: USA / IMDB
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