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STUDIO: Genius Entertainment
MSRP: $19.99

The Pitch

82 minutes meets horror clichés.

The Humans

Written and directed by David Benullo. Starring Jamie Alexander.

The Nutshell

It’s the end of the 19th century and the town of Hope has the best crops EVER, man. How did they get to be so lucky? The town preacher, Jonas Hathaway, prays a lot and makes sure the crows don’t get near the corn by propping up scarecrows all over the place. Soon, the crows get smart and begin eating the corn anyway. Naturally, the preacher’s solution is to crucify the town sinners and prop them up in the cornfields; quality corn on the cob for all ye faithful, grain certified by the lord. Then, Hathaway has a dream of the rapture and orders his town people to live underground (in the HALLOWED GROUND, see). But the folks from the neighboring town soon catch wind to his crazy-ass plans, find him, crucify him and burn him alive. A hundred years later, he comes back in the form of a scarecrow and kills some people.


The Lowdown

There really isn’t much to say about Hallowed Ground other than I could have been doing something better with my life rather than watching it. I figured it’d be a good choice to watch on Halloween, passing the time as kids rang the bell and I handed out candy. All of the kids costumes were scarier, funnier and more interesting then Hallowed Ground. That includes the two girls dressed as Ketchup and Mustard packets. In fact, watering a plant would have been more satisfying then watching Hallowed Ground. Hallowed Ground made me think of all the little time-consuming activities I sit through each day that chip away at the overall timeline of my vitality; waiting to cross the street sitting in traffic, staring at my desktop when my computer freezes and crashes. There is nothing of value here, nothing original, nothing unpredictable, nothing scary. It’s like a bad celluloid domino line that spells out the word “awful” after all the pieces have knocked into the others.

Take a look at that plot description above. You know that whole thing about the preacher crucifying sinners to protect his crops? You know how that’s most of the plot description? That’s all told in a ten-minute exposition flashback by some snoopy tabloid reporter sent to do a story on Hope. The rest of the movie is the preacher coming back as a scarecrow killing people. That’s it.

Prop humor...
The Carrot Top doll comes complete with a bonus prop case and lots of suck.

But they even screw up that idea. The scarecrow sticks around for about fifteen minutes before he gets his leg blown off. (Note to horror writers everywhere…scarecrows aren’t that scary. They’re made of STRAW. A dog could take them. A handy matchbook or lighter could own them. Enjoy your strike). So, the scarecrow idea gets tossed out and the townspeople need to find a replacement body for their preacher. Why? Because, the rapture is coming, clearly. And these people are so stupid they don’t realize that despite the fact that the preacher said the rapture was coming a hundred years ago, they’re still listening to everything he says as if it were gospel. Why? What’s so great about this guy? He’s a freaking scarecrow! Toss him into your fireplace and get on with your lives. There’s no explanation as to what kind of hold this dead preacher has over this town, why they still listen to him despite the fact that he was clearly wrong, and there’s no insight into why he went “evil” in the first place. I hate these movies that blindly tie religion into horrible acts of violence because they’re totally uncreative and unrealistic. Sure, there are religious nuts out there, but does that mean these people are willing to crucify people so that they can eat better corn? Come on!

The town people peg Jamie Alexander to be the preacher’s new body because she has a cross for a tramp-stamp. “It’s the sign!” one of them exclaims with delight. Yeah, sign that she’s trashy. Buyer beware. This is a warning for all you girls out there thinking about getting tattoos. Don’t…get…crosses. You might end up the repossessed leader of a crazy religious cult in the Midwest who only values corn and crucifixions. It could happen to you. It’s 1:49am. Do you know where your daughter is? If she’s at a tattoo parlor, pray she’s getting angel wings or one of those cheesy little spirals on her ankle. Anything but a cross.

I...just don't have the words.
Karoke night at Billy Joel’s can be a real bitch.

So, the scarecrow was inhabited by the spirit of the dead preacher, right? So naturally, all the townspeople have to do is kill Jamie Alexander and have the preacher’s spirit enter her body. Nope, doesn’t work that way. She has to have sex with a priest. Yep, that’s the only way the preacher can get a new body? How? Who knows! Why? So we can have a horrible awkward scene with a priest getting it on with a young girl. Oh, what fun. It doesn’t matter. Nothing makes sense or gets explained in Hope! But then, just like that, the preacher doesn’t want Jamie Alexander to be his replacement body because she’s impure. So much for that “sign” business. I think the preacher/scarecrow has ADD. The townspeople go looking for a little girl instead. There are so many plot holes and leaps of logic in this movie I’d need a flow chart to keep up with them all.

The caliber of the acting is below the boring soft-core porn you’d fine on late night Showtime. And don’t get any ideas that this is one of those “so bad it’s good” kinds of deals. Oh no, this is just “so bad it’s boring.” Being over the top and cheesy might have brought a fun element to the festivities, but there’s absolutely no fun to be had within this empty vessel of a movie. The only thing that made me laugh is how often characters said the title, as if it were the most meaningful phrase imaginable. My favorite was the priest, waving his hand over Alexander’s belly, mumbling, “hallowed ground.” Her son fell out a window and she’s guilty so her…womb is …hallowed? Deep…I guess…? The movie doesn’t even look good. It’s obvious some really lame digital camera was used because this was clearly not shot on film. Everything is way too squeaky clean and bright. Digital graining is all over the place, and the special effects would have been more convincing if the director let some three-year old rotoscope over the shot footage with a box of Crayolas.

The plot’s lifted from so many superior horror movies, I lost count of them all. Here’s a sampling: Children of the Corn, Pumpkinhead, Carrie, The Birds, The Thing, Aliens, even Batman Begins gets ripped (check out that Scarecrow on the cover!). Take all those movies, take a fresh idea or two from each. Now take everything good out of them. There. That’s Hallowed Ground. Avoid it like Church on Sunday morning.

Both: Losers.
Left: plans to sleep with the director later tonight. Right: slept with the director the night before.

The Package

Well, at least you know what you’re getting yourself into. Hallowed Ground looks like the type of movie you’d see at some shitty chain like Blockbuster, next to an authentic sold-out title, trying to fool the idiots who aren’t movie-savvy enough to know that it’s not a straight-to-DVD POS and is instead the genuine article studio-produced POS. I can’t think of the title it’s trying to rip off, but who cares. You know what to expect with a cover like this. “Hey, they crucified the guy from Batman Begins! And he’s friends with a crow! And some chicks got a shovel! I bet she’s the hero! She’s protecting a young girl! They’re being stalked by some crazy looking country bumpkin with a rake! The sky looks orange and menacing! Evil gets unearthed! Says so right on the box!”

Have you ever read that Onion article? The one with the headline of the guy saying, “Man in Blockbuster Confused About Where People Get Bad Movie Taste?” He’s quoted as overhearing a guy who picks up some shit movie and says, “Hey, how about this? I heard this is pretty good.” The man marches up to him and asks, “Yeah? From who!?!?” My question is: why was this made? Where is the market for this? Is the Sci-Fi channel behind it? Do they need content that badly? Because I’ve got a few socks and a magic marker. I could put on a pretty funny puppet show if they’re that desperate.

Bottom line: Don’t watch this. Don’t even think about it, ever again.

1.1 out of 10