This is a spoiler-free review.
Netflix’s newest animated series The Hollow is shrouded in mystery right from the get-go — in the opening minutes of the first episode, we meet our three protagonists Adam (Adrian Petriw), Mira (Ashleigh Ball) and Kai (Connor Parnal) as they wake up in an empty room with no memory of who they are, or how they got there. There’s a typewriter sitting conspicuously in the corner, and poisonous green gas is coming out of the floor.
From there, the question marks just keep on coming — the teens realise that they have superpowers (Adam knows kung fu, Mira can talk to animals, and Kai can do…something), “devil dogs” appear out of nowhere to chase them, and a purple-skinned man with questionable fashion sense offers his mystical help, but with an ambiguous cost.
The Hollow continues to add a seemingly random assortment of plot devices throughout its ten episodes, and it’s this Westworld-esque unpredictability that compels you to keep watching. There’s no way you can see minotaurs, demon monks and zombies all in the same show, and not be the least bit curious as to how everything is going to end.
The end, however, is unfortunately where The Hollow falters. The series throws several red herrings as the teens themselves try to make sense of their situation, and when the truth is finally revealed you’ll probably be wishing that the creators had gone with one of those instead. There’s so much potential here to create something truly unique, and taking what seems like the convenient route feels like a massive missed opportunity.
That said, you shouldn’t remove The Hollow from your Netflix queue just yet – the show is a textbook example of, “it’s the journey, not the destination”, and thankfully this journey is a pretty darn fun one to watch. With only ten 22-minute episodes to tell an entire adventure, the plot moves at a breakneck pace with little filler, and there’s no shortage of interesting action scenes thanks to a revolving door of strange enemies going up against our hero’s superpowers. It’s reminiscent of classic cartoons like Teen Titans and Samurai Jack, which is something that’s sorely lacking in today’s media catalogue.
Speaking of our heroes, each character assumes an archetypal role in the group – Adam the leader, Mira the voice of reason, and Kai the comic relief. Strong performances from their respective voice actors capture the essence of those roles perfectly, and the three bounce off each other well to make for a group that’s easy to root for. There are some inconsistencies in the script – a love triangle is implied but never fully explored, for example – and the show is strongest when it stays focused on its main objective.
In an age where animated shows are catering more to older audiences by being raunchy (Archer), thought-provoking (Bojack Horseman) or just plain absurd (Rick and Morty), it’s refreshing to see a cartoon return to it’s unpretentious, Saturday morning roots. The Hollow has a singular purpose of trying to entertain you, and while its ending might not stick the landing, the journey is short and enjoyable enough to make it worth checking out.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
The Hollow starts off strong with its mystery-filled premise, but an uninspired ending leaves something to be desired.
Story - 6/10
Direction - 7/10
Characterisation - 6/10
Geek Satisfaction - 7/10