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Sci-fi film 'Black Hollow Cage' will leave you uncomfortably numb

Sci-fi film 'Black Hollow Cage' will leave you uncomfortably numb
Lowena McDonell stars as Alice, a pre-teen girl with a robotic arm, who lives in the woods with her fussy father and a talking dog she calls “Mom” in the film "Black Hollow Cage." (levelFILM)

Writer-director Sadrac González puts an austere, arty spin on a solid science-fiction premise in "Black Hollow Cage," a time-travel movie more in the mold of Andrei Tarkovsky than "Back to the Future." The film looks stunning and presents some provocative ideas, but González's quietly contemplative approach is numbing.

Lowena McDonell stars as Alice, a pre-teen girl with a robotic arm, who lives in the woods with her fussy father (Julian Nicholson) and a talking dog she calls "Mom." One day, a distressed young brother and sister, Erika (Haydée Lysander) and Paul (Marc Puiggener), show up, needing a place to recuperate.

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Not long after, a mysterious black cube in the wilderness warns Alice to be wary of her guests. When Alice fails to pay proper heed, the cube offers her a chance to go back in time to set everything right.

Reduced to a written description, "Black Hollow Cage" makes sense. Strangers disrupt an isolated household, and then fantastical technology allows a dysfunctional family repeated opportunities to heal. Played right, this could have been an amazing and emotionally involving story.

But González maintains a glacial pace and a hushed tone, while withholding so much information that the film is confusing and only comes together in retrospect. It's a grueling experience, with a modest payoff. By the time it finally ends, every word in its title feels apt.

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‘Black Hollow Cage’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Royal, West Los Angeles

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