Saturday, October 8, 2016

31 Days of Horror- Day 8: The Hallow (2015)

(dir. Corin Hardy)

Entertainment One
* First time viewing

A family moves to a small Irish village surrounded by a forest with creatures from folklore that have their eyes set on taking away that which they love most.

While The Hallow primarily borrows from Irish Folklore, it blends horror subgenres in surprising ways while never losing sight of the logic of its own piecemeal mythology. What begins as a home invasion movie turns to a the supernatural, to body horror, and finally to a twisted fairy tale. Director, Corin Hardy moves through each of these tonal shifts an ease, but stalls when it comes to character logic and developing lasting empathy for them. The performances from Joseph Mawle and Bojana Novakovic are good, filled with genuine terror, but their characterizations are too sparely written with much of their personality defined by fulfilling the duties of husband/father and wife/mother. Typical of folklore, these characters don’t exist for the audience’s care or concern, but to deliver a message. In this film, the message is clear: the untouched wilderness of Ireland should remain untouched.

The practical effects creatures that comes of the woods are wonderfully crafted, with each one having a unique design. The lighting plays a large part in making these creatures feel tangible while mysterious, but the cut quick cut editing (no doubt a tool to mask the film’s budget) sometimes takes away from the clarity of what we and the characters are looking at. What is clear is that Hardy knows how to shoot a film. The Hallow is a lush production, filled with frames both rich in atmosphere and intrigue. Hardy is a welcome presence to the genre, and despite the film’s faults it’s certain that he’ll only become a stronger filmmaker from here.

Scare Factor: 2/5 While The Hallow lacks the follow through on the emotional hook its premise promises, it’s a worthy creature feature that examines a horror tradition and lore we rarely see in film. It just misses the mark of being a modern classic, but it’s a strong first step in a directorial career that holds much promise.

* Available to watch on Netflix Instant

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