After a 10-year bid in prison for robbery, Bobby Hawkins (Shuler Hensley) has returned to "Devil's Hollow." A small town in rural Kentucky, where he is placed under house arrest. Now, he spends most of his days playing the harmonica, entertaining a local prostitute, or finding small comforts within the visits from his old pal Birdy - played by Will Hawkes. He even enjoys some late-night drinking sessions with his Parole Officer, Whitaker (Patrick Mitchell), while he aims to walk the straight line and stay out of trouble.
However, Bobby is suddenly thrust back into "the life" when he learns that his estranged daughter Aylssa (Skyler Hensley) has been adopted by another former associate turned foe. That associate, Harry Casper (David Dwyer), has a beef and is convinced that Bobby knows more than he lets on about the whereabouts of some stolen money from years earlier. "Blood don't wash away what you owe," he says while taunting Bobby with a baseball bat. He's the definition cliche villain character - one that is portrayed well but never really plays off as interesting, in my opinion.
Written and directed by filmmaker Chris Easterly, "Devil's Hollow" checks all the boxes of a run-of-the-mill crime thriller but doesn't ultimately have a lot of emotional driving force pulling its audience in - at any point. It moves at its own speed but never really shifts gears - keeping the pacing a constant throughout. "Devil's Hollow" would have benefited greatly from some tempo changes, especially during the last act. With that written, however, there are some really great uses of establishing shots - making the locations seem more like characters themselves. They essentially root the viewers into the terrain of the film.
At the end of the day, "Devils Hollow" is a slow-burn of a film that spends much of its time showcasing people "talking" about things they've done - or things they intend to do. It never "really" dares to explore any of the themes it lays down and instead opts to play things safe. The performances themselves are all quite good, which is a huge plus - I just wish they had more to work with. In film, an often underutilized rule is to "show" something being done, not just talk about it. For me, "Devil's Hollow" is a "technically" well-made movie that plays things a little too safe. Two and a half stars. Thank you for reading.