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By Mark Bell | May 6, 2009

Here is a stylish short film that seems influenced by slow-burn creepers like Kubrick’s “The Shining” or Polanski’s “The Tenant.” Less about gore and more about assembling ambiguously creepy nightmare imagery, writer / director Paul Brickel’s “Hollow” is richly shot, carefully lit, and tightly edited, but the incomprehensible story makes the viewing experience a – sorry! – hollow one.

What we may (or may not) be seeing over the nine-minute running time is a little boy who lives in a slum with his crackhead father, who has murdered mom. In order to deal with his reality, the boy has painted a red door on the wall of his bedroom. He emotionally escapes to an idyllic, happy suburban fantasy world through the red door… but he is drawn back to the real world all too soon and much too often.

Should Bickel (an art director by trade) pursue further endeavors, I urge him to continue to pay attention to his competent technical chops, but to include a bit more story and character information. Ambiguity in certain places adds mystery, but when the entire story is this unfocused, the film falls apart and becomes ultimately unsatisfying.

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