The Hollow (on Netflix) is a surprisingly enjoyable treat.
I had no idea what to expect from this series. Judging by the name and art style I’d assumed it was a Narnia type of story set in a grimdark fantasy universe.
Well, until I saw the trailer:
It doesn’t give much away, does it?
In this age of ‘spoilers don’t matter after 2 weeks’ it was great to come across a mystery that other people hadn’t spoiled for me. I’m looking directly at you, ‘marketing departments’.
I figured it looked kind of like Saw or Lost, but aimed at teens? There’s nothing wrong with teen stuff if it’s done well (such as the Harry Potter series).
See, the thing is: It’s hard to describe The Hollow without giving anything away.
So instead I’d like to talk about a few specific things that make it enjoyable.
It’s part adventure, part mystery.
It really was a rare treat to come across a mystery that wasn’t ruined by the promo material.
But I must say: Of all the things I expected this series to be, I didn’t think that ‘a well-paced mystery’ would be one of them.
The majority of the screen time is given to our heroes Adam, Mira, and Kai as they try to make sense of their situation. The mystery unfolds at a reasonable pace and is broken up with a good amount of action.
The heroes’ dialogue addresses a lot of the more obvious suspicions (“Are we dreaming?”), making it easier for the viewer to eliminate their theories when trying to solve the mystery. My youngest daughter (a tween) and I watched this series together and we had a great time talking about the possible answers to the different mysteries in the series.
I really would like to go into detail about this, believe me.
All that I can really say without spoiling anything is that there are definitely things to spoil.
It makes me question what constitutes a spoiler. I mean, they obviously get out of the very first room, we see that in the trailer. So is that a spoiler?
This show gave me a lot more brain food than I was expecting, I must admit.
I found the payoff to be amazing, and my youngest daughter said that the final scene totally blew her mind. It certainly blew mine. Just for a second.
It’s not some great big plot twist that makes you question everything you saw during the series, it’s something that you already know exists from the plot.
But I didn’t expect it to be exactly what it was. It was, like, twistception. It’s hard to explain. And like I said, it doesn’t really impact the plot that much – it was more about the cinematic experience of it.
Again, I wish I could go into detail about that.
So let’s talk about the characters instead.
The series has many colourful characters.
Around the third episode, the series starts feeling a lot like the makers are huge fans of Discworld. Our heroes’ interaction with Death verged on slapstick, and I loved every minute of it.
One particular character is named That Weird Guy (seriously, check the credits). Imagine if Johnny Knoxville was blond and played Beetlejuice.
Oh wait, you don’t have to – here’s what it would look like:
Anyway, you can tell that the voice actor for this character had fun, which is something that I like to see (or should I say ‘hear’ hyuk hyuk). Which is good, because he’s the side-cast member who appears the most in the show.
However, there are plenty of other interesting characters in the world for the teens to interact with, but my favourites were probably Benjamin and Benjamini, two carnival strongmen:
“But what’s the actual mystery part of it like?” I hear you ask, while I lazily rely on an ‘I hear you ask’ gag so that I can clumsily segue into a discussion of that very topic.
The resolution explains everything.
I don’t know about you, but to me, a good mystery story hangs on the resolution. I don’t care how much I enjoyed the ride – if the destination is found wanting, then I feel my time’s been wasted.
Hey, what can I say? I’m all about that pay-off, probably because I get so invested in a good mystery.
Fortunately for me, this is one of those situations where the ending ties up everything together perfectly.
Well, apart from one very loose strand which I won’t bother addressing here beyond saying it’s basically one of those ‘and then a hand comes up from out of the grave’ moments which has no real bearing on the overall storyline.
So what’s the verdict on The Hollow?
I said in the intro to this article that I was expecting something like Saw or Lost, and that’s true to a certain degree.
I mean, there are other series that would be more accurate (I’m thinking of one particular film series) but if I use them then the whole thing will be spoiled.
Would I call it the perfect show?
No, but mainly only because I spent the last two episodes screaming “STOP STANDING THERE LOOKING AT THE DANGER AND MOVE ALREADY, DAMMIT!” at the TV like a madman.
But would I call it the perfect mystery?
I think it’s reasonable to say that it’s the perfect execution of a mystery story because it nails the reveal and doesn’t break the number one rule of mysteries: the main characters never have access to information that you, the viewer, don’t. Any relevant discoveries made (i.e. clues) happen onscreen.
The plot and pacing are just cherries on the mystery cake.
This is a fun adventure series with a mystery attached, and I remained entertained throughout it.