Last year, Kevin Bacon starred in the creepy but unnoticed creepy thriller Stir of Echoes. This year, he is trying to make a come back in the horror field with Hollow Man, a movie about a scientist who turns himself invisible and then does anything, including killing his friends, to stay that way. The title is sort of ironic, because he is anything but hollow (that would mean he has an exterior but no interior; it is quite the reverse), but that is the least of Hollow Man's problems, even though it does make a noble attempt.
Elisabeth Shue actually is the star, the heroine who has to stop her ex-boyfriend before he escapes into the world. Shue is sexy in pretty much all her movies, and she doesn't fail here. Her acting is decent enough, especially compared to most of the rest of the cast, which ranges from mediocre to bad. Kevin Bacon, of course, is the invisible man, and although you can't see him for half of the movie, his voice is a perfect match for that of an insane killer. Bacon, though lower down on the credits than Shue, is what makes this movie halfway enjoyable.
There are several problems with the film that circle around each other and magnify each other. The plot is one dimension that needs work. Basically, Sebastian (Bacon) turns himself invisible while testing a product he and his team is making for the Pentagon, and eventually learns how great it is not to be seen. So, he kills everyone that knows about the experiment. The flaw is that the death scenes are all two abrupt. Most people going to this film are expecting a horror movie and while there are a few suspenseful moments, the movie really isn't scary. At the same time, it really isn't that suspenseful because you know exactly who is going to die and who isn't. Furthermore, all the deaths take place in the final act of the film, very close together and not very intricate. The deaths are overly gory. For this to work properly, two things needed to be done: First, the death scenes needed to be spread out over a longer period of time. Second, the death scenes needed to take place in various locations, not just in the underground facility. This movie strikes a hauntingly close resemblance to last year's mild success and excellent movie Deep Blue Sea, where a science project turns on a bunch of people and they are trapped in an underwater facility as they are picked off one by one (the main character of Deep Blue Sea has a small role in this film, by the way). I can see why they chose this idea, however. All the characters who know about the invisibility factor are stuck in one place, so Sebastian can simply kill them all off and walk out the door. It also makes it convenient for a big explosion at the end of the movie, which really took all life out of the film. Not only does it push the believability factor but it makes Hollow Man look like a hundred other films, which it is not.
The first half of the movie is great. After Bacon turns invisible, he begins to like his new power. He slowly decides to use it to his advantage, including groping one of the doctors and spying on one of his neighbors as she undresses. The scenes aren't necessarily suspenseful but they give a good idea as to what a guy would do if he couldn't be seen. The problem is that there isn't enough of this stuff (not just sexual prowess but other things, like playing jokes on people in public and stuff like that). After the first half, Hollow Man turns into a gore fest that just seems a little out of place.
Hollow Man has its ups and downs. It creates an intriguing atmosphere but doesn't do anything with it. It builds up some good character relations but fails to really work with them. It does have great visual effects. It isn't very scary. Just a few small modifications could have made this movie great, but since those aren't seen in the film, I can only give a half-hearted recommendation to see Hollow Man. It has some good aspects that deserve to be watched, but also has an ending that is a little too trite to handle. If you watch it, watch it knowing that it isn't quite as smart as it thinks it is. Hollow Man isn't hollow, but it isn't full, either.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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