My Big Fat Sink Hole
I've watched a few made for TV disaster movies and as such when I stumble across one my expectations are never high, I'm prepared for a textbook story, telegraphed warnings, cliche characters, cheesy dialogue and low budget effects. But having watched "On Hostile Ground" my expectations are now even lower because quite frankly this is one of the worst TV disaster movies I have watched. It's so bad that it skirts the edges of being amusingly bad, providing laughter for being so awful because trust me there is little to praise in this completely text book drama.
With Mardi Gras under way the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce have their minds purely on the money the carnival will generate. So when a giant sink hole opens up and kills a contract worker they are desperate to play down the risks, especially city PR man George Regan (Peter Stebbings). But head of public works Allison Beauchamp (Jessica Steen - Armageddon) asks her geologist boyfriend Matt Andrews (John Corbett - Volcano) to investigate and what he finds despite objection from the money counters is major trouble as layers of peat beneath the city have been destroyed leaving vast sink holes waiting to cave in.
So if you have seen a few TV disaster movies you will know the routine, we meet the good guys, the corrupt businessmen who thinks of money ahead of safety, we learn of the potential disaster as well as a romantic subplot and then we get the chaos of everything going crazy as our hero tries to save the day. So whilst we have Toronto masquerading as New Orleans for Mardi Gras and the potential threat of sink holes forming as the soil beneath the city has been washed away "On Hostile Ground" is a work through of this formula. In fact it also telegraphs everything as well, a scene where our hero picks up some explosives as he goes down to investigate the possible danger makes sure we know at some point that explosive is going to be pivotal to his survival. It is seriously cheesy as it works through the formula never straying from that path taken by so many other TV disaster movies.
Now sticking to the path wouldn't be so bad if the actual disaster awaiting the people of New Orleans was believable and entertaining but it isn't. I'm no scientist so I don't know how much fact there is to what we learn in "On Hostile Ground" but to me the idea that the peat soil beneath the city has smouldered away under a summer heat and then washed away when the rain came sounds far too outrageous. But then so much of the movie is outrageous especially the way out hero Matt Andrews plans to save the city from collapsing. I won't spoil that laughable surprise for you but let's just say there is a scene in "On Hostile Ground" which reminded me of "The Blob".
Now low budget never helps matters when it comes to disaster movies and unfortunately much of the action looks fake. There is that scene which reminded me of "The Blob" which looks absolutely terrible but there are also the scenes where roads collapse, buildings shake and cars fall into holes all of which look like the controlled disaster you can witness at one of the big studio theme parks. It basically all looks too staged and too controlled with the real feeling of danger only ever showing up in one scene which ends up still being cheesy because it is so telegraphed.
Acting wise well it's not so much a case that we have great characters for the actors to deliver but even then it still ends up being as shaky as the action. It almost feels like Jessica Steen, John Corbett and Brittany Daniel have been cast because they look good especially when it comes to Daniel who does look hot. In fact it at times feels like Daniel has been cast to distract you from all the cheesy nonsense no more so when we have her sexy dancing in a club. That club scene which also features Andrew Kraulis as old friend and fiddle player Dalton ends up being the most memorable thing about the movie and that is purely because Brittany Daniel is smoking hot.
What this all boils down to is that "On Hostile Ground" is a poor movie even when you take into account the limitations of being a TV movie. It is so text book that at times it feels like another disaster movie just with a different problem and with everything being telegraphed there is no surprises or real sense of danger.