Published Oct 22, 2015This debut feature-length film from Ireland's Corin Hardy begins with an immediate horror no-no: Adam Hitchens (Joseph Mawle) brings his wife Clare (Bojana Novakovic) and infant son to an abandoned mill house in the remote Irish woods. Hitchens is a conservationist, you see, and the wildlife surrounding their home provides ample fodder for his obsessive research. Never mind the weird, viscous black goo that seems to cover everything, the suspicious townspeople imploring Clare to hang iron over their doorway, or the increasingly weird sounds coming from deep within the forest; Hitchens is on a mission, and doesn't realize the folly of his stubbornness until it comes literally clawing at the door.
Yes, The Hallow has a familiar premise. But those seeking to tear Hardy apart for an initially predictable plot will also die for his easy-to-spot homages to The Evil Dead films, Guillermo del Toro, The Descent and the gnarliest near-eyeball gouge since The Beyond. The creature effects are just okay (think fairy-ish CGI versions of those little toilet monsters from The Ghoulies) but they're cleverly concealed for the first half of the film, and the surrounding atmosphere and sound design make for jump scares aplenty. The Hallow also features a solid cast, including not just one, but two Game of Thrones alumni (Mawle and suspicious neighbour guy Michael McElhatton, best known as Roose Bolton). Mawle, in particular, sells his character's transition from science-minded sceptic to fearful believer to a decidedly Jack Torrance-esque personality shift.
Hardy has since been tapped to remake The Crow, and after seeing The Hallow, it's easy to see why: to grotesquely paraphrase the writer Jack Ketchum, he understands that the most pervasive type of terror lies in the inhabited dark.