A country-noir thriller in the vein of Debra Granik's Winter's Bone from 2010 or Nathan Morlando's Mean Dreams from 2016, Hollow in the Land is set in the mountainous small-town dreariness of the Pacific Northwest, where a trailer-park murder sends a black-sheep brother on the lam and his headstrong older sister on a blue-collar Nancy Drew mission to solve the crime and clear his name. The family is troubled, with no mother around and a father in jail for an awful crime that happened a year earlier. The low-budget effort from Vancouver writer-director Scooter Corkle is earnest and methodical, with a tone-setting murkiness to it. Scenes are shot at night or predawn: Everybody in town seems to have more guns than light bulbs. The amateur-detective sister (Alison, capably played with grit by Glee's Dianna Agron) takes a bullet, but is fine after a nap and a bowl of soup. Feminism is stressed; humour is not. Desperation hangs like the ever-present rainy mist, as does a sins-of-my-father proverb. Escape is at a premium in Corkle's hard-bitten, watchable world.
Hollow in the Land opens Jan. 26 across Canada.