Murder at Hollow's Pointe (2008)
Reviewed by Tristan Sinns
Starring Jason Carter, DJ Perry
Directed by Nathaniel Nose
We all love a good mystery. A puzzle is something that almost begs to be solved for the simple gratification of finding the answer. We all have the common daily mysteries that have more pressing motivations than that of simple intellectual accomplishment, such as finding out which couch cushion the car keys slipped under or deducing which of your dirty shirts smells good enough to wear to the gym one last time (not that I would ever do that, but I digress). The more serious mysteries might involve more important matters, things that might have a long-lasting impact on the rest of your functional life. Problems involving obtaining big job promotions, winning the love of your life, or finding the identify of a killer before that killer pulls your eyeballs out of your head and stuffs them in your mouth are all examples of powerful dilemmas one might have to face some day. In the case of the students and faculty of Hollow's Pointe University, it’s a strong case of the latter. Guard your eyeballs; we’re going in.
Four members of the Hollow's Pointe University staff are highly disturbed by a student’s paper that reexamines loose ends from a series of grisly murders that rocked the campus some 20 years prior. It seems they felt that history was better left buried, lest it return. Their distress is quickly shown validity as members of the faculty, as well as some of the students looking to solve the mystery, are cut down in a series of gruesome and bloody murders. The students and faculty must work to unravel all of the clues in order to discover the nature and identity of the masked killer before they’re the next to fall under the blade.
Murder at Hollow's Pointe is a very low budget venture and does show some serious chips in the paint for the low cost involved. The film contains the myriad of common errors that are relatively standard in a micro-budget film: the print sometimes has that camcorder look, the editing can be awkward, and the dialogue sometimes stirs a groan. This is a film that is working toward a CSI-light mystery peppered with humor and gratuitous T&A, and it makes it about three quarters of the mark.
Humor and gratuitous nudity, in my very subjective opinion, are not bad things at all; I love to laugh, and naked people are some of my favorite people in the world. Here, however, both felt awkward and a little duct-taped in, particularly in the first act. As the film warms up, we’re given almost slapstick jokes about masturbation and peek-a-boo shots of girls' chests that all smack of camp. When the film begins to delve into the scenes on the campus, the tone completely changes and achieves a smoother feeling that is more natural and becomes a more entertaining line to follow. This flux in tone confuses the feel of the picture as it becomes difficult to sense what kind of film it is striving to be.
Another, rather more serious flaw in the film is that the entire mystery as revealed feels incomplete and perforated. It’s never really explained why the killer has moments of super-human strength. Ever try to rip a man’s head off with your bare hands? It’s really hard! There are other little head-scratchers here and there, little things that just don’t quite add up. It’s one of those films that, if you think about it too hard, is just going to dissolve in a puff of bad logic.
The high point of Murder at Hollow's Pointe has to be the gore itself. The killings within the film are imaginative, bloody, and often well done. Special effects involving blood and grue commonly suffer within films that are financially challenged, but here they manage scenes that are surprisingly shocking. Girls choking on eyeballs, tongues ripped out, and heads bouncing on the floor are all things that can keep a viewer’s attention, even if they’re cringing in the process.
On another positive note, the acting was often well done, and you could see the actors had comedic talent that could be better exercised if only the jokes were a little better. A highlight, for me at least, was discovering Jason Carter, better known as Marcus Cole from the epic sci-fi series “Babylon 5”, in one of the leading roles. Carter is a good actor, and here he does well; I can’t help but want to see more of the man and hope he makes some future returns to the genre.
Overall, Murder at Hollow's Pointe is a flawed venture, but the bulk of those flaws are the common smudges that curse and often doom films done with a slim wallet. The folks behind the picture, from director Nathaniel Nose through to Executive Producer Jordan Yale Levine of Fylmar Productions, have talent and ingenuity, and I think with a bit more to spend and a good script, they could churn out a winner. Look forward to it.
2 out of 5