No matter how attractive the mysterious man is, I’m not letting him “fix my back left tire” under any circumstances. Somehow, I wish Emily from the Award Winning short film Sweet Hollow had followed this advice...
"It's dark. It's cold. And you can't escape. Welcome to Sweet Hollow Road."
Produced at the Tisch School of Arts, the short film adds a new twist to the on-the-road horror sub-genre (films like The Hitcher & Joy Ride) by using the established legend of 'Sweet Hollow Road'. This piece could have easily been the opening segment for a film like '90s slasher Urban Legend.
Writer & director Sean Lee makes use of the little time he had to create a surprisingly slow-burning & horrific tale. Lee and his film Sweet Hollow does the one thing any short film should do; it makes you want more! Personally I would love to see this project expanded upon or used in a grander production.
Also, special shout out to the band A House For Lions for the soundtrack. The song 'Evolution Calls' that plays at the beginning is great when given a full listen.
Reasons To Watch Sweet Hollow
1. The Acting
The lead actress Alice Kremelberg really made Sweet Hollow a showcase of her acting prowess. Having her face in almost every frame, Alice’s character Emily went from what could have been a one dimensional horror victim to an actual human being. No wonder her IMDB is stacked with credits ranging back to 2006.
The other lead character who doesn’t have as much screen time as Emily (but still makes an impact) is James, played by Ryan Vigilant. Ryan made the character of James memorable from the start and played the role with the perfect amount of campy fun and utter creepiness. He gives the type of performance that makes you want to yell at the screen “DON”T TRUST HIM! HE’S OBVIOUSLY CRAZY!”
Successfully using intense close-ups of the characters and a lot of muted lighting, Sweet Hollow makes you feel anxious during the car ride with James & Emily. Shots of James and his piercing eyes, matched with Emily’s look of fear and trepidation really drives home the fact that something is going wrong in that car. There is a lot of smart camera work at play in this film and it is very effective.
The short film also has a very bleak color scheme throughout. Most of the film is shot in a blue light or in almost no light at all. Rarely do we see actual color so the sense of dread is always on screen, especially when watching this film in the dark. Even at the beginning when Emily is on the phone with her sister, you're not at peace. When we do finally see a glimpse of color near the end of the film, it took me by surprise and added to the graphicness of what was happening on the screen.
3. 'Sweet Hollow Road' Legend
The best take away from this film for me was the introduction to the many legends of Sweet Hollow Road. Various tales of suicides, murders and bus crashes are tied to the stretch of road in Long Island. The film itself features the legend of a police officer that haunts the road by stopping random drivers and walking away to reveal a massive gun shot wound in the back of their head.
The short film Sweet Hollow also uses the story of a man who kills a girlfriend with a hatchet & the ghost of the dead girlfriend haunts the road. While we don’t see the ghostly girl, writer Sean Lee still uses elements of that story for this own piece. But there are still many more legends that could have been tackled. Perhaps these legends will be used as inspiration for future installations in the Sweet Hollow Road horror saga.
Sweet Hollow is currently playing at a number of festivals across the United States. For more information about screenings and the film in general you can follow the cast and crew on Facebook.