The Hill and the Hole Image

Tom Digby (Liam Kelly) works for the Bureau of Land Management, where he surveys different aspects of the terrain throughout New Mexico. As he is analyzing a man-made hill, a rancher and his employees attack Tom. He tries to escape the town but finds that something is inexplicably drawing him back to the hill. The Hill and the Hole is the eerie tale of Tom’s odyssey toward finding answers about the odd hill and the people living within its proximity. However, the journey that Tom embarks on will push him to his limits, and his life will never be the same.

The film, directed by writer Bill Darmon and Christopher Ernst, suffers significantly in the casting department. In general, the actors struggle to convey any emotion appropriately, watering down much of the content, making it difficult for viewers to buy into this world or story. This means that most scenes never really have any life or energy to them. There is one individual that manages to shine. Kristen Brody, who plays Layne Mead, is incredibly talented and delivers her lines with passion and precision, providing viewers a glimmer of hope.

“…tries to escape the town but finds that something is inexplicably drawing him back to the hill.”

The story has potential, but as it plays out, the audience realizes that scenes and transitions lack cohesion; sequences are jumbled and confusing. The Hill and the Hole lacks the continuity necessary to find success. Furthermore, as viewers attempt to follow along, the narrative becomes so cumbersome and unorganized that it becomes ever increasingly more difficult to follow. A more linear and structured tale following Tom’s escapades would have been far more effective.

While there are quite a few negatives that will certainly turn viewers off, the reality is that there is a space where films of this caliber thrive. I believe Darmon and Ernst have found that space. With all of the odd visuals, below-average acting, and off-the-beaten-path narrative, the fantasy-horror-science fiction hybrid finds itself sitting on the shelf next to infamously so-bad-it’s-good productions. Titles such as Birdemic: Shock and Horror and Velocipastor, to be precise. While those films aren’t popular among the masses, a niche group of followers enjoys the ironic nature of nearly each and every aspect of the films. I am positive that this film will garner a similar fanbase.

It’s important to understand that the irony and the less-than-ideal qualities of The Hill and the Hole lead to something resembling comedy rather than the intended drama. I laughed out loud on numerous occasions as characters made odd comments to one another that felt both out of place and out of character. Moments like this only further cement that appreciation of camp, and assessing its overall so-good-it’s-good entertainment value is the only path the film has to find any success.

The Hill and the Hole (2020)

Directed: Bill Darmon, Christopher Ernst

Written: Bill Darmon

Starring: Liam Kelly, Kristen Brody, Adam Gorightly, Brandt Adams, Ricardo Burgos, etc.

Movie score: 6/10

The Hill and the Hole Image

"…Kristen Brody, who plays Layne Mead, is incredibly talented..."

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