THE HALLOW (UK/USA/Ireland/16/97mins)
Directed by Corin Hardy. Starring Joseph Mawle, Bojana Novakovic, Michael McElhatton, Gary Lydon, Stuart Graham, Conor Craig Stephens, Joss Wyre.
THE PLOT: “Don’t tell mum,” says Adam (Mawle) to his infant son Finn as he gathers some 500-year-old parasitic fungi from an old Irish ruin, having been sent to survey the forest for a development company. Back home, his wife, Claire (Novakovic), is being warned again by concerned and mildly manic local Colm Donnelly (McElhatton), adamant that the couple leave these dark, troubled woods alone. When something goes bump, crash, bang wallop later that night in Finn’s room, the local garda (Lydon) repeats the threat in only slightlier sunnier tones.
And that’s when all kinds of dark, black magic hell breaks loose, with the couple soon battling plenty of diddley-aye demons in the night whilst clearly struggling with a few inner demons. Such as our increasingly rabid Adam becoming convinced that their little Finn has been replaced by an evil twin.
THE VERDICT: It’s ‘The Thin’g meets ‘The Shining’, meets, eh, ‘Bracken’, as Corin Hardy’s critical fave makes it to the big screen here. Well, when I say critical fave, this was a hit at Sundance and later the horror fest circuit – so, the critics in question were both biased and boggled-eyed after sitting through 5 other films that day.
Still, it’s not difficult to see why this monster mash has been hitting the right spots with lovers of all things gorey and grotesque.
In truth, there are plenty of hippy couples living in technically abandoned old houses in the wilds of Ireland going through their own existential crisis day by day, by day, by day, and so ‘The Hallow’ may not seem all that far-fetched to Irish viewers. In truth, it only gets interesting in the last 10 or 15 minutes, as we abandon all the blinky torch basement cliches and go full retard on the primal parent scream stuff. Up to that point, ‘The Hallow’ is more than a little hard to swallow.
Review by Paul Byrne

The Hallow
Review by Paul Byrne
2.0Hard to swallow
  • filmbuff2011

    Irish-produced The Hallow is a dark fairytale which marks the feature debut of Englishman Corin Hardy, a music video director and lifelong fan of monster movies. It begins with a forewarning of what’s to come. Then we meet Adam (Joseph), his wife Clare (Bojana Novakovic) and their baby son. They’ve moved from London to rural Ireland, as part of Adam’s work as an environmentalist. Adam wanders off into the woods nearby and discovers the decaying carcass of an animal. It’s been attacked and eaten – but not by any normal animal. Their neighbour Colm (Michael McElhatton) doesn’t believe in a warm Irish welcome. He warns them to stay out of the woods, but doesn’t explain why. Garda Davey (Michael Smiley) then explains that the forest in inhabited by The Hallow, woodland creatures who don’t take kindly to strangers on their territory. Colm ignores this superstitious behaviour, incurring the wrath of The Hallow as they terrorise Adam and Clare, while attempting to snatch their baby… The Hallow is unrelentingly dark, but is all the better for it. Described by Hardy as Straw Dogs meets Pan’s Labyrinth (high marks then), this is visceral horror at its most effective, with some superb creature design that is genuinely unnerving to watch. It doesn’t get more visceral than a nod to Lucio Fulci, with a creature claw getting dangerously close to Clare’s eye. It’s also old-school in its approach, relying on animatronics rather than excessive CGI to portray the creatures. These are not friendly fairies that you might find in a family film. They are nasty and territorial, stopping at nothing to get what they want. While the film certainly has its moments, it feels a little too familiar. If anything, it feels similar in some respects to Hammer’s Wake Wood, another Irish-set horror. The characters are typical of those that you will find in a horror film too – they ignore all warning of impending danger and take forever to realise that death is just around the corner. If it had been that little bit more original, then it would have warranted an extra star. Instead, it’s a good if not quite great addition to Irish-themed horror films. It’s certainly made an impression though – Hardy has been given the prime job of rebooting The Crow. It would appear to be in reasonably safe hands. ***