EIFF 2015 – The Hallow
Corin Hardy’s The Hallow focuses on a family who move to a remote wooded area in Ireland and are terrorised by demonic creatures over the course of a night.
Another horror movie for me at the Edinburgh International Film Festival that manages to come across as watchable overall. The story isn’t original or deep in any way and the execution is at times a little off but it’s all pretty serviceable.
The main characters Adam (Joseph Mawle) and Clare (Bojana Novakovic) Hitchens are really underdeveloped from the beginning. His most defining trait is that he’s a scientist and Clare is a devoted wife and mother who backs him up as a secondary protagonist. The film offers nothing in the way of a journey for either of them making them avatars for all of the onscreen carnage.
Given that there are only 97 minutes to play with here no miracles could really be expected in terms of characterisation but something that makes them feel like real people like a conversation about their hobbies or something would have been welcomed.
Both actors do a good enough job with what they are given and have an impressive physicality that makes them believable in the set piece moments. Mawle has a lot to convey during these sequences and has to convey a lot under some pretty heavy makeup. I have no complaints about the ability of the actors to interact with their surroundings.
In terms of story there is nothing here we haven’t seen countless times before. The isolating rural setting full of superstitious people who give them fair warning before everything starts to happen is ripped right out the horror handbook -should something like that exist. The long night of constant danger is another mainstay that will be familiar to most audience.
Thankfully the execution is really solid for the most part. The creatures are well designed and used to great effect but the whole thing goes a bit over the top towards the end. It moves from claustrophobic mystery to what can only be described as complete insanity in a matter of minutes. All I was thinking when the whole thing was over was that I wish no explanation had been given. Sometimes we are so much better off not knowing.
A big problem was that the explanations made no real sense. We see Adam reading from a book of folklore but he seems to keep what he has learned to himself with only vague looks at random pages out of context. What results is an awkward halfway house between mystery and exposition where I felt none the wiser after being told things. I know that the creatures were part of local superstition but beyond that I’m completely in the dark. It was never made clear why they steal children or what provokes them to come after people. Is every baby abducted? If so then how are there adults in the area? Am I reading too much into this?
I liked a lot of the imagery from the foreboding dark woods to the mysterious black ooze that appears everywhere signalling a particularly large concentration of Supernatural goings on. There are some standout scenes like an attack in a car that is both tense and claustrophobic. I was definitely entertained by this but I wasn’t overly excited or surprised by any of it. Definitely one to watch if you want a passable horror flick and have had a few beers. That scenario should put you in the perfect mood to fully enjoy this.
Lifeless characters and a dull story bereft of surprises prevent this from rising too far above mediocre in the annals of horror films.
There’s nothing new or surprising going on here. A rural setting populated with strangely superstitious people and a long night of being under constant attack are familiar tropes that crop up in many horror movies so this will feel familiar to anyone watching.
I thought it was pretty well executed with a couple of standout moments and the actors handle the physicality of their roles really well. Joseph Mawle does a particularly good job under some really heavy makeup some of the time.
I would say that this is best enjoyed when in the mood for a typical horror movie after the consumption of a few alcoholic beverages. At the very least that might make the jump scares seem more alarming. Not a bad watch but not very inspiring.