2000s Sci-Fi Horror Thriller With A-List Stars Doesn’t Deserve Being Hidden From New Generation

By Charlene Badasie | Published

hollow man

Hollow Man, a gripping sci-fi horror thriller that captivated audiences with its cutting-edge visual effects and spine-chilling suspense in 2000, has been unable to find a home on any streaming platform. As a result, the film, which boasts an ensemble cast led by the incomparable Kevin Bacon, is at risk of being hidden from a new generation of viewers.

Hollow Man

Directed by Paul Verhoeven from a script by Andrew W. Marlowe, Hollow Man also features Elisabeth Shue, Josh Brolin, Kim Dickens, Greg Grunberg, Joey Slotnick, Mary Randle, and William Devane.  The story follows scientist Sebastian Caine (Kevin Bacon), who volunteers to be the first human test subject for an invisibility serum. However, due to a miscalculation, things don’t go as planned. 

An Invisibility Serum

Hollow Man begins by introducing the brilliant yet self-absorbed scientist Sebastian Caine (Kevin Bacon), who develops an invisibility serum for the military.

His team, including his ex-girlfriend Linda (Elisabeth Shue), succeeds in making a gorilla visible again. Later, Sebastian lies to a committee and conducts unauthorized human testing, turning himself invisible.

He quickly becomes unstable and starts to taunt his team. When efforts to reverse the invisibility fail, Sebastian is quarantined. Ignoring instructions, he returns home and begins voyeuristic activities, eventually escalating to sexual assault. Sebastian manipulates the evidence to cover his tracks, becomes increasingly unstable, and even kills a dog.

Fighting Back

Hollow Man

The team discovers Sebastian’s actions and confronts him. He kills his mentor, Doctor Howard Kramer (William Devane), and traps the team in the lab, hunting them down one by one.

Linda and Matt (Josh Brolin) fight back, with Linda ultimately using a flamethrower to injure Sebastian. He tries to escape, which eventually leads to a final confrontation in Hollow Man.

Paul Verhoeven began working in Hollow Man following the controversial Starship Troopers in 1997. He aimed to create a more commercially viable blockbuster with the new film.

A Substantial Budget

Hollow Man

The film had a substantial budget, with a large portion allocated to visual effects. Verhoeven, known for storyboarding extensively, maintained tight control over the film’s direction, relying heavily on his pre-planned shots.

Screenwriter William Goldman initially found the script for Hollow Man lacking but saw potential in its special effects. Despite rewriting for a director who disregarded his changes, Goldman remained unsure about the film’s outcome.

Filming began in April 1999, with the story shot chronologically. Despite Elisabeth Shue suffering an injury, which halted production, filming concluded in February 2000.

Scenes Shot Twice

Hollow Man

Verhoeven secured rare permission to film Hollow Man near The Pentagon despite the script’s sensitive themes about government experiments.

Washington, D.C., served as a primary location, with some scenes shot directly in front of iconic landmarks. The laboratory scenes were filmed at Sony Pictures Studios.

Special effects were crucial in portraying the invisible protagonist in Hollow Man. This required Kevin Bacon’s presence on set despite his character’s invisibility.

To achieve the desired effect, scenes were shot twice, once with Bacon and once without. Advanced techniques, like motion control cameras and digital cloning, were used to integrate Bacon’s performance into the film seamlessly.

A Box Office Hit

Hollow Man

Despite its negative reviewsHollow Man earned $26.4 million in its opening weekend. At the time, it was the first film since Mission: Impossible 2 to lead the box office for multiple weeks.

By the 15th week, it earned over $73.2 million in North America and $117 million internationally. Hollow Man is available to rent via Apple TV+Amazon Prime Video, and Google Play.