The Hallow (2015) – Horror
Directed by: Corin Hardy
Starring: Joseph Mawle and Bojana Novakovic
How I Watched: Streamed on Netflix
Best Line: “Hallow be their name / And blest be their claim / If you who trespass put down roots / Then Hallow be your name.”
Every once in a while, a movie comes along that you’ve never heard of previously and bites the living hell out of you. This is one of those. Grasping onto its predecessors in the ‘shack in the woods’ genre, The Hallow knows what its job is right from the get-go. Never taking itself too seriously, but at the same time, avoiding any laughable moments, this flick will definitely get under your skin. There’s monsters, some paranormal weirdness and some really jumpy scares. So switch off the lights and turn it up loud.
There is a blast of immediate dread when the movie begins that seems to be lacking in a lot of horror movies lately. Very often, we get the slow burn for the first hour or so, that builds into a bloody, chaotic payoff that just manages to hold the film together. That’s not the case in The Hallow. We are introduced to the characters a lot like in The Shining as an automobile is seen looping through country roads on the way to its ominous destination. Without ruining anything, a married couple with a newborn is moving from London to the Irish countryside, where the father is tasked with preparing the forest for logging. This does not make the forest or inhabitants happy, and did I mention the couple has a newborn? Ok, that’s all I’ll tell you about the plot.
A lot like Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead series, there are a number of disgusting and squishy moments that made me recoil. When I say squishy and Evil Dead in the same sentence, you probably know what I mean; revolting sounds of flesh getting smashed and the gooey crunching of various parts in monster’s teeth. There’s a lot of that in this one. But unlike Sam Raimi’s series, it’s not very funny. At all, actually.
Now, a lot of people have problems with CGI in horror movies. I am one of those people, but I understand it in moderation. The Hallow does a great job of using it when they need to. At times, you can tell the CGI would probably look ridiculous, but the creators did a great job with the lighting so that the effects don’t take center stage. This by all means is a monster movie, so there were plenty of chances for the team that filmed this to screw it up.
Those of you frightened by the creatures in The Descent or some of the fairy tale monsters in Pan’s Labyrinth need to stay away from this one. The Hallow borrows from those films and turns it up to 11. There are some absolutely jarring jump scares in this and the things causing them are anything but pleasant. Watch out, too if you’re easily affected by eye injuries on film.
I think one aspect of the film that it could have improved upon was to further explore the mythology that is behind the menacing force out in those woods. It is briefly touched on as the small town’s unspoken folklore, but there was definite opportunity to make this story as chilling as something out of Lovecraft. There is even what seems to be a direct reference to the Necronomicon in one of the scenes, which again, is not focused on enough.
Really though, this was a great film. It’s vicious in pace, storytelling and bloodletting. It does a great job of building dread, but not for so long that you anticipate the next scare. The film knows right when to surprise you. If you have surround sound, you’re in for a treat as the sound editors did a wonderful job using the rear sound field to assist in the scares. The acting was pretty good, but if you have a difficult time with English and Irish accents, you might need to flip on those subtitles. So switch those lights off and enjoy tonight’s nightmares. This one will do everything to make you feel like you shouldn’t be in the dark.
Final Score: 3.5/4
Similar Films: Evil Dead (all of them), Pan’s Labyrinth, The Descent