People can be very overprotective of their things, sometimes - but how far is too far when it comes to respecting thy neighbor's property? Fresh to streaming services this month is HALLOWED GROUND, a killer new horror written, directed and even acted by Miles Doleac (who has a pretty rich history in the genre) that tells the tale of two neighboring families, the generations-long property feud they share, and the seriously sinister, dark history behind all the angst. The run time is just shy of two hours - and at times, the film feels like it moves at the pace of a turtle - but I promise, once the backstory truly begins to unfold, Hallowed Ground will have you in its grip and it won't let go 'til the credits roll. If you don't mind a little slow burn and a lot of dialogue - which all leads up to an incredible climax - I can't recommend this film enough; it is disturbing and haunting, yet engaging and addicting at the same time. It's a unique story with a wicked story, and it seriously surpassed all my expectations I had from the trailer.
Summarizing this movie is somewhat hard to do since there really is so much backstory, history, and people you meet along the way during Hallowed Ground, but I'll try to keep this one brief and to the point: young married couple Vera (played by Sherri Eakin) and Alice (played by Lindsay Anne Williams) retreat to the woods in an attempt to work on their relationship when - of course - things go downhill rather quickly. After Alice cheated on Vera, the couple are hopeful that their stay in the woods will help them overcome their marital issues and reignite the fire that was clearly once there. Once they arrive at the property, they are greeted by Nita (Mindy Van Kuren), a Native American woman who shares with the women very few rules, but the most important being: respect the property line, and do not cross over the barbed wire onto the neighboring land. What would a horror be if the women didn't break the single most important rule? It is after this run-in with their neighboring family that the dark history and evilness of man is brought to light, and it runs deeeeeeep. You see, the punishment for trespassing onto their neighboring property - even by accident - is entirely up to the cult-like leader Bill Barham (Doleac's character) and his following; and Barham shows no mercy to those who break the rule. It's a fight to survive the night as Alice and Vera try to make it off of the property - and out of the woods - with their lives.
Right off the bat, let me just say that re-reading the summary just now doesn't exactly make the movie sound all that thrilling, but honestly, the gold is in the rich backstory and history that this film digs into during that slow-ish run time. In an attempt to keep this review relatively spoiler-free, allow me to just say that the story is pretty sick; it's a family vs family affair that spans over decades, and a history that the Barham family just cannot seem to forgive or forget, for that matter. It's pretty juicy, pretty bloody, and is worth sitting through the slow pace that I know will turn off a lot of typical movie-goers. That being said, the second half of the film is where the action really is, and while you're not seeing anything too bloody, too gory, or even too actiony, Hallowed Ground still packs a pretty mean punch in terms of keeping your attention and sucking you into its deep story line. There's a good amount of emotion you'll experience between the married couple Vera and Alice, and both actresses did a great job (there's a few parts where their interactions feels a little forced, but overall it's average) - but the real star of the film that you'll come to love is Miles Doleac's character Bill Barham, leader of the Barham clan that lives next door to Nita's property. The dude is a fucking psychopath straight from the get-go, but the more on-screen time he gets, the more evil and insane he gets, and it's totally awesome right up until the end. Doleac not only captured the mindset of a psycho, but the way he carries himself and the looks on his face speak a million words a minute, and they all say lunatic.
Hallowed Ground isn't going to be the gore-fest a lot of die-hard horror fans are often seeking out, nor is it going to be a revolutionary film that will change the horror game forever. However, it's filled with one of the juiciest stories I've seen this year, and when you mix a psychotic cult into the pot, you're bound for awesomeness. The movie definitely takes a while to get off its feet, but if you can get past that, I an assure you, the ride is pretty thrilling after that. It's a great indie flick to watch on warm summer nights like these, as it will really help put you in the beautiful woodsy environment shared in the film. The comedy is cheap, some of the lines are tacky, but the film does plenty to earn itself a viewership. If nothing else in the film does it for you, Ritchie Montgomery's character Sandy will at least grab your heart strings as he's one of the most humble dudes you'll ever see in a horror. There's a fair amount of mutilations in the film that will help satisfy the blood thirst horror fans may crave, but remember going into this that the film feels more story driven than it does action driven. Knowing this, Hallowed Ground is an adventure into a dark and violent past, and if you've got two hours to kill on a warm summer night, I'd recommend giving this film a chance to show you what a madman looks like. On a side note, the score to this film is phenomenal, and whoever they enlisted to bring that score to life knocked it out of the park; a most excellent addition to the film, to say the least!
Check out the trailer below for Hallowed Ground, available now on video on demand services!