WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
Going into this movie my expectations were about as low as they could go. I was stuck at home and bored out of my mind and desperate to watch anything, so I was thankful for any movie that kept my mind partially occupied for a while. Secondly the movie’s name is Kaw; given that the people behind it could think of no name more original than the sound the birds made didn’t make me think I was about to watch a gem. Having seen Flu Birds a while back I also learned not to expect an awful lot from any killer bird movie that isn’t The Birds. Perhaps it’s exactly because my expectations were so low that I actually enjoyed this movie. I know most people who’ve seen it would probably disagree with me, but I’m going to stand by my half-informed decision to grant this movie a ‘Surprise!’ Level of Awful.
Sheriff Wayne is about to have a very bad day. Dawn is breaking and the many little farmers of Middletown, in the middle of somewhere, are about to start going about their day. One farmer is particularly old and a bit slow at getting his barn tidied up and is taking his sweet time clearing some straw off his tractor. With this highly important job completed he jumps into the tractor and begins reversing it out of the barn before accidentally riding over a raven that just landed to catch itself a nice mouse breakfast. Apparently pissed off that one of their brethren has been ridden over the entire unkindness of ravens (not to be confused with the murder of crows doing the rounds in Hallowed Ground) swoops down on the old man and scratches him to death before taking a few beakfuls out of him. We know that this man was important to the community because someone reports his death to the sheriff’s office despite the fact that nobody has actually gone to the barn where the attack took place.
So sheriff Wayne is on the case. It was meant to be sheriff Wayne’s last day before moving out of town into the big city, but experience has taught me that horrible things happen either just before someone important moves out of town or when someone important has just moved back into town. For no apparent reason across the county the ravens have begun acting up, but of course the only person who has actually seen the ravens behaving so poorly and lived to tell the tale is Clyde, the town’s renegade farmer who has only just managed to conquer his drinking problem. Given his track record and the fact that the neighbours reported that he was firing off his shotgun that morning (at the ravens) Wayne and the rest of the town don’t really believe him when he tells them that the ravens are going around attacking people.
Of course if man-eating ravens is the simplest answer to what’s going on in the town then it’s usually the right answer. Apart from the attacks on the entire town and the local school bus how else are we to explain the Mennonites’ (to an outsider they look like Amish people but imply that you should know the difference) strange behaviour? They’re becoming even more reclusive than usual, there are dead cows all over the show, things are being burned and there’s talk of burning sheriff Wayne’s wife Cynthia as a witch to ward off the Devil’s wrath. In one way or another all of these things must be connected somehow, and while Cynthia’s busy being stuck in a well with a rotting cow’s head it’s up to Wayne to figure out how to stop the birds before they learn any more inventive tricks (having already mastered rock throwing and bulb breaking) that might help them to eat the entire town.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- Small towns have no use for a professor of cultural anthropology.
- Shotgun-toting ex-alcoholics make ideal school bus drivers.
- God punishes women for being friends with one another.
- Ravens, although not overly social creatures, will put aside their differences to make war with humans.
- German Shepherd is considered a delicacy by ravens.
- Dirt roads can miraculously transform into tarred ones in a matter of minutes.
- Ravens are strongly opposed to the use of guns.
- Photographers will bring the wrath of God down on humanity’s collective head.
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WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
In my humble opinion there just aren’t enough killer scarecrow movies out there. Like clowns there’s just something very off-putting about a scarecrow, so the horror movie opportunities to use them are virtually endless. I dug this movie out for that exact reason – scarecrows are scary and deserve their place in the long list of seemingly harmless things that can and will kill you when the opportunity arises. As an added bonus I get to throw the collective ‘murder of crows’ around in this review 🙂 All in all Hallowed Ground isn’t a bad movie and there are certainly far worse ways for a person to kill 90 minutes of their time. It just isn’t an amazing movie; it never really gets to the point where you’re on edge waiting for what might be coming round the corner.
Our story begins back in the day (late 1800s-ish) in the ironically named little town of Hope. It’s a bustling little community of hard-working farmers tending to their cornfields day and night to ensure a good harvest. Hope is renowned for the quality of its corn and the townsfolk’s ability to grow their corn no matter what the weather; even droughts can’t keep these people without corn. As well as being hard-working corn farmers Hope’s inhabitants are also a sizeable body of religious nut cases headed up by the equally insane but charismatic Jonas Hathaway. It’s from him that the locals have learned how to grow amazing corn: you gather up any sinners you might have running around town, you dress them up like a scarecrow and then you crucify them in the middle of the cornfields. The exact scientific reasons for the corn liking this so much was never fully explained to the audience, but that corn’s growing like it’s nobody’s business so something’s working. Unfortunately for the town news of their dear preacher’s unorthodox corn-growing methods make it to Liberty, the next town over, and the locals their proceed to storm the cornfields and crucify Hathaway and then burn him.
Flash forward to the present day and Hope’s still standing and the people there are still growing corn. Our leading lady Liz Chambers literally rolls into town one day when her car begins to break down while she’s out on a scenic drive to wherever the hell she feels like going. The car’s gonna take a day to fix so she needs to get comfortable and pops off to the diner to grab a bite to eat and be stared at by anyone who walks past her. At the diner she meets Sarah, a lovely tabloid reporter who fills her in on Hope’s back story. With nothing better to do Liz decides to go with Sarah out into the cornfields to get a look at Hathaway’s old farmhouse and take some photos that can be later used in Sarah’s newspaper. For full effect they decide to make a creepy scarecrow, stick it up on a crucifix and hang it in the cornfield. Hathaway’s ghost takes this as his opportunity and possesses the scarecrow and proceeds to brutally murder Sarah before going after Liz, who manages to escape and make it back into town.
Of course all is not well in the little town of Hope. Many years have passed but the locals have never quite managed to shake that Religious Sect of the Corn vibe that they’ve cultivated so well. Liz gets back to town only to be hunted down by the scarecrow and learn that bullets have very little effect against a stuffed bag of straw and decides to seek sanctity in the local church. From here things become even more bizarre when she’s informed that she is at the centre of a 100-year-old prophecy made by Hathaway. He foretold of her arrival just before he died and now needs the new priest to have sex with her, get her pregnant and when the baby’s born Hathaway can possess it. Sounds to me like the priest is a bit desperate, but I decided to run with it anyway. What happens afterwards is a combination of running, some fire, some more running, a crucifix, some hiding followed by some running, some corn, a murder of crows, some more running, some more crows and then some more corn. Oh yeah, and there’s an ending thrown in there as well. An ending that includes corn.
LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:
- The best way to ensure a bumper crop is to offer a human sacrifice.
- Reporters often walk around with scarecrow- and crucifix-making kits.
- Despite being made of straw scarecrows have remarkable upper body strength.
- There’s no kind of police business that should take more than 20 minutes to sort out.
- Scarecrows are particularly fanatical in their religious devotion.
- Boys get over excited during crucifixions and tend to do more harm than is necessary.
- It’s easy enough to massacre an entire town and hang them from telephone wires.
HALLOWED GROUND TRAILER
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