Holler begins fast and breathless, the speed of the opening sequence juxtaposing the rest of the film’s pace, which is slow and quiet. The cool filter indicates the harsh winter weather, and the dull colours of the costumes in general help the red on the protagonists’ clothing to stand out. This small detail becomes more significant later on. Nicole Riegel’s feature centres around two siblings who make a living out of scrap metal. It depicts the uncomfortable presence of relationships and age gaps; the prospect of work and living for yourself or others; and the reality of financial instability and education.
Ruth has a lot of spunk: she’s smart and witty with plenty of personality. The unique expressions and little quirks Jessica Barden provides help endear the audience to her rough and stubborn demeanour. The wardrobe choices paired with her performance help the actress to pass for the high school character, but some of the lighting ages her. This is a double-edged sword as it highlights the use of Dawson casting. While this is not an issue in general, in certain scenes she comes across as older than her brother Blake (Gus Halper). On the other hand, these moments of lighting emphasise the effects of their situation, making her appear tired and run-down.
The film has a lot of significant symbolism, alongside cases of foreshadowing. Mainly, the image of the crossbow, the colour red and the “I like her” comment from Hark (Austin Amelio). The music is atmospheric: it sets the calm when needed but also adds a touch of delicate suspense without completely overwhelming the audience. In terms of visuals, it’s stunning but simple. One of the most compelling shots in the movie is the roller-skating scene.
The aforementioned clip makes use of uncomplicated editing and camera movements. Its timing fits with the lull of the background music’s lyric, “an arrow is launched with a battle cry”, which sets-up the future of the relationship. Some sequences also make very good use of colours and lighting to create a distinction between different characters. This highlights the emotional tension of each of these moments.
Overall, the feature is a fantastic journey that stays consistent in tone, making the ending feel all-the-more satisfying for the viewer.
Holler is released digitally on demand on 11th June 2021.
Watch the trailer for Holler here: