After binge watching movies over the past few weeks for an upcoming Top 100 in Horror list, I felt I was in the midst of a “Horror Movie Overload” (you’re kidding, right?!?!). Well, since that’s not an actual thing, I said fuck this. I nutted up and decided to pick the first movie that came across my Netflix queue. Which brings us to the 2015 Irish film, The Hallow.
The plot is nothing we haven’t heard of from this type of flick. A family moves from London to a remote location in Ireland and find they have awoken a horrific and demonic force in the surrounding woods of their cottage. Feels like you’ve seen this movie already doesn’t it? Well, probably not quite like this.
Adam, played by Joseph Mawle is a fungal specialist and conservationist that is examining the wooded locale. But the townsfolk of the nearby village don’t like him traipsing around their woods. They talk of Irish folklore of the unknown. Of fairies, baby-stealers and banshees. Which I thought was an interesting plot device. These simple folk believe the woods are full of creatures that don’t want to be meddled with. Turns out, they were right.
Directed by Corin Hardy, he really brings a sense of simple life in the backwoods of Ireland. The scenery and landscape were fantastically shot, driving home the feeling of serene and quiet life. The flip side to this is that when things begin to go wrong, the scenery becomes dark, bleak and tense moments are captured at a frantic pace. Not losing strangely beautiful shots.
The plot is very thin. No doubt about it. No backstory, just a family in their plight at the moment. The script loses wind in its sails through the second act. At times, the plot is bland and not going anywhere. But a story like this, doesn’t need much depth from its characters. It’s how they react to the constant threat of evil. That is what captures your attention. You don’t care about the ‘who’ or the ‘why’. It’s a family protecting its own from evil. More specifically, two parents protecting their child at any cost. You’re in the moment. The characters draw you in. If you are a new parent, this movie will grab you and make you ask yourself, “What would I do”?
At it’s core, this is a creature feature until the coup de gras. Then the winds of change set the sails right in the third act and although the forces don’t show themselves too often, the sense of certain dread is always there. The monstrosities are obscured through most of the film, waiting in the shadows until their big reveal. When they finally do show themselves, the monsters look truly horrific and the film culminates into a thrilling finale that is surprisingly beautiful. Yeah you read that correctly. I said beautiful. Not many movies can take you on such a journey and end the way this did. Totally floored me. I really liked this film a lot. Not an instant classic, but very much worth an hour and a half of your time.
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