Tell me, how many times have you heard the following plot: a family moves into an isolated house and strange things start happening? This basic horror premise, involving a family as a unit that generates tension and empathy has been used so much that it actually became a sub-genre. Not to be mistaken with the home invasion movies that tend to be more on the thriller side, this sub-genre is usually a mixture of horror and fantasy or even sci-fi. The Hallow is a British-Irish co-production and this alone piqued my interest, since I clearly have a fetish for horror movies coming to us from this region. From eerie and disturbing Kill List, classics like Dog Soldiers and Eden Lake, horror/comedies The Cottage and Severance, they all have a distinct atmosphere and great performances. And let’s not forget the Irish, especially the movie Isolation featuring a similar vibe.
As I already mentioned, we all know the main story of this movie, but I found it strangely refreshing and authentic here, with execution that was very professional although this is a debut for director Corin Hardy. I can’t quite put my finger on it, maybe it’s just the dreadful and intense atmosphere or the gore that was pervasive and impactful. Especially the body horror, reminiscent of The Thing, one of my favorite movies. And everything looked fantastic, from the decrepit house to things that were happening later in the movie that I don’t want to spoil. Actually, there were so many things happening at once, that while you were too busy figuring out what’s happening to the house something else popped on screen and grabbed your attention. I just remembered another great Irish horror/comedy Grabbers, a very funny take on the whole sub-genre.
Adam, his wife Claire and their baby have just arrived in a remote village in the Irish countryside. Adam is an expert in microbiology, specializing in conserving natural habitats and his work has brought him in this picturesque and rustic environment. However, the locals in the village are not too happy with him walking around the woods and marking trees for destruction. They say an ancient force resides in the forest, a force that should be respected and left alone…
To counterbalance the already familiar setup, The Hallow uses a very well-thought-out story that’s combining science and folklore. As well as some practical aspects like the fact that their kid is not some six or seven-year-old but an infant and this creates this primal and visceral reaction with us. The initial setup also seems so realistically plausible (guy marking trees) that it’s almost boring, lulling you into a sense of false security. The attention to detail was also something that I appreciated, like the couple sharing a joint while making dinner. Driven by powerful performances by Joseph Mawle (Game of Thrones) and especially Bojana Novakovic who seems to be steering towards the horror genre as her favorite (Drag Me to Hell, Devil, Malicious), The Hallow keeps a great pace and when you combine it with great special effects and an interesting story, you got yourself a flick really worth watching. And Benjen Stark is not the only one from Game of Thrones starring here, Roose Bolton also appears, although in a supporting role. And speaking of supporting roles, I also must mention infinitely likable Michael Smiley who has one of those faces you smile every time you see. In the end, this is one of those movies that will leave you hungry for more of the same, so check out some of the above-mentioned movies and these two additional ones: The Ritual and Let Us Pray.
Director: Corin Hardy
Writers: Corin Hardy, Felipe Marino, Tom de Ville
Cast: Joseph Mawle, Bojana Novakovic, Michael McElhatton, Michael Smiley, Stuart Graham, Charlotte Williams