Tuesday 11 September 2018

Hollow Body (USA 2018: Dir Alex Keledjian)

Horror movies about rock bands. I love 'em. Horror movies about rock bands with David Arquette as a seedy, washed up Svengali? Yes please.

So yes, Arquette stars as Jimmy, a former rock god whose glory days are way behind him (his single hit back when he was 20 barely funds his still louche lifestyle). At his fiftieth birthday party (the third one, he notes drily in the ever present laconic voiceover that carries us through the film) he's introduced to some young and hungry musicians - including the coquettish Rachel (Allie Gonino) and frustrated new dad songwriter Scott (Ryan Donowho) - and before you know it he's strapped on his axe and corralled the youths into forming a band - the 'Hollow Body' of the title.

However it's hard to work the media these days if you're fiftysomething, so Jimmy ends up doing some deals to get the band on tour, but their first warm up gig is a disaster, with Rachel developing crippling stage fright. Barb, Rachel's pushy mum, as brash as Rachel is sweet, comes to take her home, but driving away a bolt of lighting hits their car. Barb is killed but Rachel survives. But she's different. Edgier. sassier. Maybe more like her...mum? She's also lethal - a kiss and a touch from her leaves the recipients burnt out - literally. But what price a few charred bodies along the way if the band finally get the recognition they deserve?

Cheesy it may be, but Hollow Body is great fun. I was a bit confused about when the movie was set; 'Hollow Body' play that vaguely trip hoppy stuff that bands used to churn out at The Bronze during episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and there's a mention of the Clinton administration on the radio that strongly suggests we're in the 90s. But the recording equipment shown is definitely 21st century as are the social media references. Oh well.

What's great about the movie, apart from the really silly story (it's a little like A Star is Born mixed up with the 1941 Lon Chaney Jr vehicle The Man Made Monster), is the humour. Spot on faux 90s band names regularly feature - Jimmy's success was in an outfit called 'Dirt Pipe' - and script wise Arquette gets all the best lines. "I thought my luck had changed. It did. It got worse," he remarks at one point, and his response to the offer of cocaine is "whenever I do it, I break out in handcuffs."

Watching David Arquette enjoying himself playing up to his former bad boy image should perhaps be more tragic than it is, but he's clearly having a great time and is surrounded by a capable and talented cast doing well to keep straight faces. Alex Keledjian's first feature - he also wrote Hollow Body's songs too which ain't bad - is best seen as an homage to teen horror pictures of twenty years ago, very silly but very entertaining.

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