Based on a shocking true crime that took place on the Appalachian trail. Two female students set off for a camping trip into the Pennsylvania woods - but they are hunted, shot and left for dead by a mountain man after he discovers they are lesbians. A local sheriff soon begins to piece together more unsolved disappearances and murders on the trail, but can he act in time to stop more killings.
The film, DEAD WOMAN'S HOLLOW centers around several disappearances and murders occurring along the Appalachian Trail, but more in particular, the case of 2 women, Jen and Donna. The film begins when Jen's boyfriend comes into the Police station to report her missing, as he has not seen or heard from her in some time. Sheriff Hatsley and his team, then subsequently take on the case, and it doesn't take them long to positively identify Jen's body as one found along the trail. Donna likewise turns up, only she is alive, but is in a very bad way. As Hatsley's investigation continues, we are told the story via flashback, of how all of this came to be. What could have possibly led up to one being dead, and another badly injured? The film answers these questions by introducing us to the story of Jen and Donna from the beginning. Hoping to get away from her boyfriend of 3 years, Jen agrees to meet up with Donna and embark on a camping trip within the the Appalachian Trail, a section ominously dubbed "Dead Woman Hollow". Donna, a Photo Journalism Major, is hoping to get some photos for a College project, and feels that the trail would be a peaceful place to do so. But later it is revealed that the ladies' plan is much more specific than we realized, when we learn that Jen is an obvious victim of domestic abuse, and that the pictures that they are hoping to get are centered around that, as the project is on the subject of domestic violence. Once the women reach a cabin on the trail, they believe they are alone. That no one is watching, But they are wrong. Because soon, they come upon a strange, beard-clad, mountain man named LeRoy, who has obviously been keeping an eye on them. Yes, even seeing a moment of intimacy between the 2 women. It is something that angers LeRoy, as it goes against his off-kilter belief. This of course kicks off a frantic turn of events, events that quickly turn painful, and deadly. Since the incident on the trail, LeRoy has since, seemingly vanished. With one witness describing the man as being a "ghost", all that the Police have to go on is a sketch of what they believe the man to look like. Because of this, the case is exceptionally draining for Hatsley, who begins to show signs of the toll that the case is taking on him, which seemingly renders the case unsolvable.
For DEAD WOMAN'S HOLLOW, Writer John Taylor took to the pages of the annuals of true crime when forming the plot for the story. The film is partially based on a real life occurrence, which happened in 1988 in the state of Pennsylvania along the Appalachian Trail. In that case, a lesbian couple were the victims of a vicious hate crime, when they were targeted by a man, whom they had run into while they were on the trail. A man, who didn't believe in their chosen relationship. One victim was killed, while the other miraculously survived. DEAD WOMAN'S HOLLOW is a film that takes the idea of the real story, and adds its own spin, in order to create an original presentation. And no matter what sort of reservations one might have going into the film, the results are actually pretty surprising. So, first, lets get it out of the way. Yes, the film is on a relatively low budget, and yes, Director, Libby McDermott, is a first time Director here, but don't let that fool you, as this film is really good. Guided by the script by Taylor, who has previously directed several features of his own, the film knows exactly what it is going for from the beginning. This is definitely not one of those films that aren't quite sure about what it wants to be, this film knows whole heartedly what it sets out to achieve. The level of focus and precision found in DEAD WOMAN'S HOLLOW is pretty impressive. As far as plot and story structure goes, i'd have to say it is one of the most impressive independent films that I have seen in a long time. During the initial portion of the film, Hatsley and company are presented with several details involving our incident, such as the women had snapped pictures while on the trail, etc. Well, the way in which the film accounts for these details in the flashback scenes, is very nicely done, and it is seamless, and comes off very classically. As in classic Horror. These are the types of plot details, even the smallest ones, that are found in most of the classic Horror films. Some of the best. And DEAD WOMAN'S HOLLOW has them, which is a definite credit to the quality of the film's script. It isn't often that you see this type of attention and dedication in an independent Horror film. No, most films, just throw something together and hope that it, at least makes a little sense to us in the end. But when it comes to DEAD WOMAN'S HOLLOW, it gives me hope that there is still a lot of good left to be seen in independent cinema. It is definitely a focused effort. It's something that is both different, and refreshing. It's not just some story about 2 women who go into the woods, only to be killed and beaten, it's one with depth and meaning, it also has a little ambiguity associated with it in the end, which leaves us to ponder a little. Also a nice touch.
Along with it's well thought story, the film also consists of some performances that are also quite good. Although we don't get to know a whole lot about the characters of "Jen" and "Donna" truly, we are given just enough to build the necessary emotion. I felt that the actresses, Melissa Heflin("Jen") and Sarah Snyder("Donna") did well here. Also doing well here, is Charles Dawson, who leads the way as Sheriff Hatsley. I was actually quite surprised with how well Dawson's performance came accross. While the performance isn't 100% consistent all of the time, it is surely above the level of of a lot of performances that I have had to endure in recent years, when it comes to indie horror. I really don't have a lot of bad to say about the acting in the film. Sure, this is low budget horror, but that don't necessarily mean that the acting is "bad" by default. DEAD WOMAN'S HOLLOW, is a good example of that, as the acting here, just further emphasizes the story.
Again, I must say that I am impressed with what I got in DEAD WOMAN'S HOLLOW. I went into this film not expecting much, and ending up getting a lot more. It's a well put together, true to life Horror tale, with a distinct level of realism about it, that is conveyed very well. It's a nice little surprise.
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
To sum up DEAD WOMAN'S HOLLOW, one must say that it is a lot better than the film's cover would suggest. WILD EYE has opted to fit this film with cover art that is both generic and lackluster, which is quite the opposite of what you actually get from the film inside. DEAD WOMAN'S HOLLOW, is a solid, well realized, and ultimately satisfying effort, that should not not go unnoticed. But unfortunately, due to the over saturation of today's Horror market, it probably will.