December 21, 2015 The Hallow (Movie Review)
It is exciting for Horror fans when writers and directors widen their scope past the well-worn Vampire, Werewolf, and Zombie stories. One such film is latest Horror release The Hallow. Written and directed by Corin Hardy, who co-wrote the film with Felipe Marino (All the Boys Love Mandy Lane 2006, Behind the Mask 2013-2015), The Hallow was released at the Sundance Film Festival on January 25th, 2015. Filmed in Ireland, The Hallow touches upon ancient Irish folklore.
Joseph Mawle (The Awakening 2011, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter 2012), plays main protagonist Adam Hitchens, a tree expert who moves from London with his wife Claire, played by Australian actress Bojana Novakovic, (Devil 2010, The Little Death 2014) and their infant son Finn to the Great British countryside. They move to a home surrounded by an expansive wooded area. The locals are currently engaged in a protest with logging companies to keep the trees in tact. They view Adam’s presence as an equal threat, and from the get go, treat him with hostility. Adam, Claire, and Finn settle into their new home. To make the house more homely, and inviting, Claire removes iron bars from the outside windows. Not long after she does this, birds begin hitting the windows. Each day, Adam takes Finn on a walk through the forest while he conducts his research. He comes across an abandoned house in the forest, and finds a strange fungus. He takes the fungus home to study, finding surprising results.
One of their neighbours, Colm (Michael McElhatton: Game of Thrones, Shadow Dancer 2012), openly warns Adam and Claire, to leave the trees, and the area alone. The woods are steeped in ancient legend of creatures known as The Hallow. There are rules when dealing with them, though The Hallow seldom follow them. Years ago, Colm lost his own daughter to The Hallow. She then became what is known as a changeling. Colm is desperate for that not to occur again. Strange events in their home concern both Adam and Claire, resulting in several close calls for themselves and Finn. After Colm gives Claire an ancient book describing The Hallow legend, she too becomes concerned for her family’s welfare. One night, The Hallow come calling for Finn, and Adam and Claire are in the greatest fight of their lives, while protecting their son. Adam and Claire are faced with a parent’s worst nightmare, with a supernatural threat. Adam is forced to enter the belly of the beast to retrieve Finn, before he becomes one of The Hallow.
The Hallow is a fast-paced, original Creature Feature, with a tightly wound story, excellent acting and direction, and outstanding special effects. The originality and intensity do not let up the entire film, and it is incredibly refreshing to see writers and directors widening their scope of ideas. Some of the most intense fear and emotion felt by viewers is quite possibly related to baby Finn. As an infant, each event is new and terrifying. Finn’s screams have the effect of intensifying the tension in a scene. It sets the viewers teeth on edge, Finn’s shrieks begin to act as a portent of doom.
Visually, The Hallow is a stunning movie, the wooded areas included are amongst the most picturesque in any movie. The cinematography by Martjin van Broekhuizen (Speelman 2013), captures the isolation, and essence of small town, country living. With plenty of twists and turns, Hardy takes the viewer through a parental and relationship living hell. The open ending hints at the possibility of a sequel, and is most certainly one to watch out for. Hardy used a number of unusual techniques to ensure realism in the movie. In this regard, he adapted the camera work to blend in with the scenery, and provide unique perspectives. Much of the scenery takes place in the woods, and in nature. Hardy even wore a wetsuit to shoot from within a lake. He further ensured the dialogue was realistic to even a non-supernatural story, in effect, dropping normal couple Adam and Claire into a fantastical situation.
As a Creature Feature, Hardy relied on British Special Effects artist John Nolan. Nolan created some of the most terrifying and real creatures in modern films. Hardy used both physical effects with CGI, and seamlessly blended them together on screen. They are simply stunning, and Hardy has a bright future ahead of him. The Hallow is an absolute must watch for Horror fans searching for that special film to scare and delight them. CrypticRock scores The Hallow 5 out of 5 stars.