I would like to start this review out with a shout to the Landmark Main Art Theater down in Royal Oak that unfortunately had to close its doors. This theater holds a special place for me. The Main was where I got my love for watching small art house films from this theater. I can say my love for movies started from going to the Main. Truly a historical place and I will miss it, thank you for the memories.
So, after wiping the tears from my face, let's talk about Holler. This film was very artistic. If you are not into art-house movies this is probably not for you. But, you should watch it just to give your movie palette something new. I liked this film, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I hoped for. There are times this film can be slow and a little predictable. Jessica Barden gives a solid performance here, but I think this film needs some more juice. So, let’s dive in!
The story takes place in a small Ohio town where Ruth, a rough and tumble high schooler hopes to get out of town and go to college. She has no money to pay for it, so she must take on the job of scrapping metal illegally. Ruth and her brother decide to work for the head scraper in town named Hark. With the money she earns, she hopes to get out of the shadows of her past and start a new life elsewhere.
What I Love
I loved Jessica Barden's performance. She is such an underrated actor and I hope this film gets her some big-time roles. She plays the rebel teen role very well. If you want to see her at her best doing a character like this, go and watch The End of the F*****g World on Netflix. She's made a name for herself doing these small art house films, and I think that she deserves more.
I really enjoyed seeing the scrappers' lifestyle. Needless to say, this job is not glamorous. It's dirty, tough, and sometimes flat-out brutal. These people grind for every dollar they earn and I love to see that said grind. I loved how the film showed that lifestyle, but also didn’t slam it in your face. I never knew how scrap metal gets out of people's houses and abandoned buildings, so it was nice to learn.
Being an art-house film, we were blessed with many beautiful shots in this film. I really loved how they shot the scenes in the scrap yard. You see basically mountains of scrap with people throwing more and more on top of the pile. Also, the shots of Ruth in her home were really well done. Excellent camera work throughout the film.
Also, shout out to Austin Amelio. He’s another great actor. He played Hark really well, and did a great job in this film playing the main antagonist. If you go watch the Walking Dead, you will see him at his best.
What I didn’t love
I feel like this film needs some more juice. What I mean is some more action, additional dialogue between Ruth and her brother, and a deeper story are needed. Sometimes I feel like we bounced from one event to the next without any context or meaning. I left some scenes feeling like "oh I wish something more happened but okay”. It felt slow in some areas and I caught myself looking at my watch a few times.
The somewhat romantic angle with Ruth and Hark felt really forced. I didn’t see a need for it at all. They had the roller rink scene and that one kiss, but then it never got mentioned or expanded upon again. If you are going to introduce a love angle it needs to be developed or at least mentioned again in the story. It happened then went away quickly. I felt like it was really forced and added nothing.
There are events in this film that happen with no consequences and that annoys me. So, one of the scrapping guys dies and it gets told to the group, and then it's treated like oh well things happen. C'mon man, this guy was clearly a friend and the film treated his death like it was a toy that just broke. Then Ruth destroys Hark's office toward the end and for whatever reason Hark does not go after Ruth or her brother? If someone destroyed my stuff I’d be pretty mad and it happens with no consequences.
The ending felt a little predictable as well. Happy ending, but I just felt like the ending could have had more drama or had been better developed.
Jessica Barden gives a solid performance in another art-house film. I think this film needed some juice, but overall a solid watch. 3 out of 5 stars.
You can stream this film via Amazon Prime.