Lionsgate // 2006 // 86 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // December 14th, 2007
Don't run...haul ass!
Friends, cabin, killer, screaming, deaths, etc.
Monica St. John (Shelli Boone) is a popular celebrity and the star of a mediocre sitcom. She's looking to branch out into new projects, despite the desperate pleas of her scummy agent.
To blow off some steam she accepts an invitation to head to a secluded cabin for a weekend of recreation with some friends. But -- you know what's coming -- this momentary peace is shattered when a killer begins killing. That's what killers do. They kill. And they love killing idiots, which Monica's pals turn out to be, but what else would you expect?
I guess Holla would be considered "urban horror" and in fact describes itself as such on the disc cover, but I'm not sure if it would qualify for that genre. Actually, I don't know what urban horror really is. Slaughter that takes place on the streets? Or a horror film featuring a predominantly African-American cast? If it's the latter, then Holla scores; if it's the former, it's disqualified because, like every other slasher movie ever made, all the mayhem transpires at a cabin in the woods.
And this is why Holla ultimately stands as a forgettable, straight-to-DVD production: it's like everything else out there. A bunch of friends go to a cabin and get killed and freak out. And that's your movie. What differentiates slashers films from the endless hordes of like-minded adventures can be boiled down to a few aspects, in my opinion: quality of the villain, quality of the deaths, and quality of the characters. There's some other stuff too, but I'm already getting bored with this review.
"Quality of the Villain"
This is probably the biggest disappointment in the film. The thrust of the suspense behind the killer's identity is that it's someone within the group, but the filmmakers turn it around and introduce a character out of the blue. He/she (for the spoiler-conscious) strikes me more as a plot contrivance than a memorable slasher and the tired genre convention of the indestructible maniac resurfaces in an extra-goofy way.
"Quality of the Deaths"
In a word -- bleh. Run-of-the-mill stabbings, a few gunshots, a bludgeoning or two. Clearly these guys put all their eggs into the "compelling-identity-of-the-slasher" element, which, as I noted, leaves much to be desired.
"Quality of the Characters"
Here's the silver lining of Holla. While far from genre-benders, the cast does a decent job with clichéd material and turns in some spirited performances. The acting is probably the strongest thing this otherwise sub-par film has going for it.
That's about all I got for you with this movie.
Picture (1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen) and sound (5.1 Dolby Digital) are efficient. The video, shot digitally, looks fine and holds up through the extensive night scenes. For extras, you'll get a commentary from director H.M. Coakley, writer Camille Irons Coakley and actress Shelli Boone and a nifty making-of documentary.
Seriously, that's all I've got.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 86 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Making-of Documentary