So, she runs off, they go after her and then smash cut to Devin, his mom, and grandmother eating dinner. Wait, weren’t they eating lunch at school? Shouldn’t they have more classes to attend? It all happens so quickly that the logical lapses start piling up before the viewer has fully comprehended the one just before it.
Later on, Devin and his friends go to a voodoo practitioner, Miss Jess (Mamie Morgan). They are seeking information on how to discern what the spirit wants. She reads Devin’s hands and informs him of the terrible evil that is following them, and that he must replace what he took from the cave. But, Devin did not take anything from the cave. Horror vets might not think this is a plot hole, as it must tie back to his mom or grandmother somehow, as they’re both very tight-lipped about the cave. Fantastic thought to be sure, but it does not. It is just a glaring logic gap that prevents the film from being as absorbing as it could be.
For all the faults in the screenplay for Hallowed Be Thy Name, Ri’chard is a great director. Start to finish, the movie looks impressive, successfully using long camera takes to build suspense. Director of photography Torin Penwell ensures that the camera feels as unobtrusive as possible, placing the audience directly in each scene as much as possible. This maximizes tension, allowing the full force of the horrors these characters go through to be felt. It is all quite unnerving and will leave you on the edge of your seat.
“…maximizes tension, allowing the full force of the horrors these characters go through to be felt.”
The film also sports flawless sound design. Ambient noise is dropped to warn the audience of something startling, and composer Zachary Leffen’s score perfectly encapsulates each scene. It is all damn impressive. These impressive technical aspects of Hallowed Be Thy Name prove that limited resources do not necessarily hinder the final product with talent and hard work.
Then there’s the acting, which is quite a mixed bag. In some scenes, everyone does a pretty good job. On the drive to their new home (living with Devin’s grandma), Devin and his mom have a very sweet heart-to-heart about the move and the divorce. The two actors nail it. Later on, Devin tells Skylar to calm down as she’s getting mad at Miss Jess. It feels more forced than anything.
The same goes for everyone in the cast. They all have moments where they fit their character like a glove and sell the horror. But there also times where what they say is not all that believable. Of course, that might also have to be because the dialogue is pure exposition. Some 90% of anything said throughout the entire film is plot-related, not character related, if that makes sense.
I would love to see a 2-hour extended cut of Hallowed Be Thy Name. Of that extra time, ten minutes would be added to the bonding of the core friends, before venturing to the cave. The remaining ten would be interspersed throughout after the haunting starts to beef up character motivations and relationships. That film, exposition-heavy screenplay and all, would be amazing. With a bigger budget and a more focused, nuanced screenplay, Taylor Ri’chard has the potential to deliver a game-changer. This film is not it, but it’s an excellent showcase for both his weaknesses and strengths as a filmmaker.
"…would love to see a 2-hour extended cut..."