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Holla: A Movie Review

Updated on March 24, 2013

There's a saying I kind of have when it comes to horror movies, although I don't think I've ever expressed it out loud to anyone. Stop me if you've ever heard this one before. Horror movies are like french fries: when they're good, they're damn good, and when they're bad, they're still pretty good. It's possible you've heard that in another form (probably referring to either pizza or sex or sex pizza), but I'm the guy with more than 80 pictures of french fries on Facebook, so you can see why I fell back on that.

I like bad movies. The stuff created by incompetents. Movies where five minutes of screen-time are taken up by various shots of the characters heads driving down a deserted road (Manos). Where every single character's entrance into a scene is greeted by the same "Oh, Hi!" (The Room). Movies where the animatronic octopus doesn't work, so all you have is a paragon of horror cinema flailing around in a swimming pool (Bride of the Monster). Gems where Tara Reid pretends to be acting (Alone in the Dark). Three of the four movies I just mentioned were horror movies and that's because horror movies, even at their worst, seem to still be incredibly watchable for me. There is something relaxing about being about to turn on a piece of crap, beer in hand, and laugh at all the wrong places for ninety minutes. Bad dramas tend to be bad; bad horror movies give you Mark Wahlberg talking to plastic plants (The Happening).

But there's a fine line between so bad it's good (the above-mentioned films) and so bad it's just bad (the subject of today's review). Holla is a horror movie made up of pretty much every horror cliche you can think of, full of annoying characters who are dumb as a bag of hammers, more gory discretion shots than you can shake a stick at, and a twist at the end that was old back when I was a kid. Holla is a bad movie, no doubt, but it's not one of those bad movies that you can enjoy while drinking with buddies or anything like that. No, it's not enjoyable in the least.

The film starts out by providing Urban Dictionary's definition of holla. This is, of course, of no real relevance. Following that, we are treated to a girl hooking up with her boyfriend. They can't get busy, however, because they don't have any condoms. The boyfriend responsibly runs out to buy some and as soon as he leaves, Monica is attacked by a masked piece of racism. That's no joke, by the way, the rubber mask her attacker wears is chubby and has gigantic big red lips and Jesus Give Me Strength, this happens in the first five minutes of the movie. The girl is menaced briefly and then the attacker, uh, attacks. End scene.

Remember that, it'll be important later. Relatively.

Following the title card, we are introduced to Monica (Shelli Boone). She's the lead actress in the hit tv show "Baby Gurl." We'll never be told what "Baby Gurl" actually is, but apparently it's such a big hit that the network wants to renew it for a second season. Her agent,
Red Herring #1 (Michael Bergin), is all gung ho that she reups her contract but she's not having it. She just wants to go camping with her boyfriend and all her pals. I'd go into more details about her pals but they're all pretty interchangeable. The only ones that will stick with you are her boyfriend, Dwayne (Charles Porter), and Freida (Robbyne Manning), who isn't of any real importance to the movie but who is insanely grating every single second she is on the screen. The rest say nothing and do nothing that is even remotely memorable ten seconds after they do it. Even the agent and his ditzy stereotype of a girlfriend join in on the fun.

Rounding out the cast, such as it is, is Red Herring #2 (Young Sir). #2's a pain in the ass, the kind of guy who wears a backwards baseball cap and sells bootleg copies of Barbershop IV in front of a strip mall. That's this movie's idea of comedy, by the way. Because Barbershop IV isn't a real thing, you see? Making fun of movies with an uncanny number of sequels only really works if the franchise in question has more than two movies (cf. Rocky XII: Adrian's Revenge), but that's what you're in for, really. Case in point, later in the film the gang will suspect #2 of being a killer and they lure him into a trap by cooking some hamburgers. I guess because the smell of cooking meat is irresistible or something? I don't know, is that a thing? At any rate, #2 gets into some trouble barely worth mentioning and the police think he killed a guy (complete with a "police sketch" that is an actual picture of Young Sir with a sketchy filter thrown over it), so he ends up awkwardly joining the gang on their trip.

Also, as a side note (because that is kind of how the movie treats it), a doctor discovers that a nurse has died. End scene.

Remember that, it'll be important later. I know I sure didn't.

So the group sets up at a cabin in the woods before they go out to rough it the next day, and during the night Dwayne proposes to Monica, the power goes out, and people start dying. The group starts out holed up together in a single room, which is surprisingly smart for any horror movie, but their brains quickly turn to mush and people start finding excuses to split up and die. This is one of the cliches this movie adopts that I have no issue with because the basis of every slasher movie is that people and stupid and then they die, but most of the deaths occur off-camera. Those that do happen to be filmed are relatively gore-free, because when I watch a slasher movie, I want all the deaths to happen when I'm not looking, and blood makes me squeamish, for serious, guys.

In the end, Monica fulfills her duty as Final Girl and faces off against the killer. Turns out it is not Red Herring #1 (the agent seriously just crashed the party to get her to sign her contract, not to scare her into doing it) or Red Herring #2 (the burger-loving rapper didn't kill anybody, his friend did, and that is why he's on lam from the cops), but it's Monica's twin sister. Evil twins are a staple of the bad horror movie genre, but generally most movies are smart enough to mention that the main character has a sibling before the reveal. This movie, on the other hand, never bothered to tell you that Monica had a sister, let alone a crazy sister that was in the loony bin. You see, the girl at the beginning of the film was Monica with a different haircut, and the attacker in the incredibly racist mask was her sister who was jealous of her. The nurse killed earlier in the film, who I had completely forgotten about, was a nurse that the twin killed to escape from the asylum. The only hint, such as it were, that Monica had a killer twin was a throwaway line about how Monica had it rough at one point.

In the end, good triumphs, #2 survives because he's a rapper and arguably the most famous person in the movie, and eighty-eight minutes of my life has gone by. As far as bad horror movies go, it's definitely a bad movie, but not offensively so, which I guess is about the best thing I can say about it. It didn't offend me like Feast 2 or Feast 3 did. That, and it was at least watchable enough that I didn't turn it off twenty minutes in like I did with The Hunters.


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