MSRP: $26.98
RUNNING TIME: 86 minutes

  • Horror Story: The Making of Holla
  • Commentaries

The Pitch

"What could possibly go wrong during a trip to the woods?"

The Humans

Shelli Boone, Charles F. Porter, Michael Bergin, Young Sir, Kimberly Barnett, Robbyne Manning

The Nutshell

Monica St. John (Boone) just wants to have an enjoyable weekend in the woods with her friends and her boyfriend Dwayne (Porter). Getting away from all the hassles in her life, the utmost being her agent Greg (Bergin), is a bonus. She’s the star of the surprise-hit sitcom, Baby Gurl, and Greg has been trying his best to get her to renew her deal. The trouble begins on the trip to the cabin, when the campers unexpectedly run into Dwayne’s cousin Troy (Young Sir), as he’s thumbing a ride. Trouble continues to brew after they get to the cabin and Greg shows up unexpectedly. Things finally boil over when a masked maniac cuts the power to the cabin and starts killing everybody off one by one.

Middle American thanks you.

The Lowdown

When no director could be found for Holla, H.M. Coakley stepped up to the plate and added a hyphen to his writer credit. While his passion for the project may have gotten the film completed, it didn’t add much in the way of vision. Coakley’s biggest shortcoming is his over-reliance on the close-up. Call me old-fashioned, but a close-up works best when used to punctuate something. It could be a bomb under a table, a character experiencing some intense emotion, or Naomi Watts’ nipple. The close-ups hint at a lack of imagination and the kills only confirm it. Coakley breezes through the violence, lingering long enough for the bodies to register as deceased.

Without the vitality provided by brutality, it’s up to the story to liven things up. Unsurprisingly, the story doesn’t deliver. There is a spark when a few of the characters decide to turn the tables and go on the offensive. One of the ladies fries up some burgers, while two of the guys hide behind the island and wait for Troy, who they believe is the killer, to take the bait. It plays out as ridiculously as it sounds, and spices things up just a touch. It’s not enough to make up for the other deficiencies in the storytelling. So much time is spent trying to get us to believe Troy is the killer that there isn’t any left to set up an alternative choice. We know that the killer has tried to put an end to Monica before and is probably the same person that escaped from the asylum. Other than that, it could be anyone or anything. The possibilities were endless, killing any enjoyment to be had from trying to guess the killer’s identity.

Let’s see. Camp, check. Mineral, check. Body of water, check.

The cast consists of mostly unknown faces. The only one to make much of an impression is Young Sir as Troy. Granted his character has a little more to do than stand around and wait to be killed, but Mr. Sir’s charisma elevates him above the rest. Michael Bergin deserves some credit for playing his role as straight as possible. His impromptu rendition of “We Shall Overcome” could have been a complete disaster, but Bergin makes it feels true to the character. If that is at all possible.

It’s hard to hate Holla despite the stultifying direction. Its heart is in the right place, wanting to put a new spin on a standard horror plot, but the creative juices seemed to stop at the spin.

It’s a great album, but proclaiming your love for it in blood seems excessive to me.

The Package

"Horror Story: The Making of Holla" has H.M. Coakley and Camille Irons Coakley leading us through the somewhat troubled production of their film. It’s the usual story of flaky financiers and the filmmakers’ undying desire to see their film completed. Shelli Boone joins the Coakleys for the commentary track. The participants obviously enjoy each other’s company, as well as the film, making the commentary equally enjoyable. Also included is the usual gathering of Lionsgate trailers. This time we’ve got Slow Burn, Fido, Night of the Living Dead 3D, Haunted Forest, Silent Scream, and Dark Storm.

4.2 out of 10