Menacing creatures of the forest steal the show in Corin Hardy’s directorial debut “The Hallow.” The film takes place in rural Ireland, where a conservationist Adam Hitchens (Joseph Mawle), his wife Claire (Bojana Novakovic) and their infant son Finn have just settled into their new home. The family soon finds that their new town is plagued with superstitious townsfolk and an ancient evil referred to as the Hallow. Their mysterious neighbor Colm Donnelly (Michael McElhatton) tries to warn the family that foraging trips in the forest will invoke the evil creatures that prey on children, but Claire and Adam are insistent that the town’s perpetuation of folklore is ridiculous. The couple becomes believers, however, after multiple unexplained intrusions into their home leaves them fighting to survive.
The film has a slow start and for the first half there is no explicit explanation of what Adam’s work in the woods actually entails. This continued lack of clarity plagues the film’s meddling first section.
Despite this, Hardy makes up for it with the reveal of the monsters. Hardy utilizes his skills as a visual artist and special effects connoisseur in order to bring his monsters to life, clearly demonstrating his love for horror films and creatures that go bump in the night.
The cinematography in the film also helps to add a fairytale-like quality. Known for his hauntingly beautiful style, Hardy presents us with shots of morning light peering through dark and twisted branches onto a pasture to help set the scene and send the audience to this world where fairies, banshees and baby-snatchers lurk around every corner.
However, the film has another major downfall in the lack of depth given to the characters. The husband-father Adam portrays the stereotypical strong protector in the film, protecting his wife and son from the sinister intruders. The wife, for most of the movie is portrayed as the stereotypical, helpless, female character. However, in a scene where the creatures have abducted Finn, Claire proves that when her husband is down and out or down for the count that she was willing to step forward and do whatever it took in order to save her child. Besides these two characters, the only other (human) character that receives more screen time than the Hitchens family is the neighbor Colm, who serves as nothing more than the person to say “I told you so,” when the situation takes a turn for the worse for the protagonists.
While the film is far from joining the ranks of the cult classic horror films, it is a good first attempt at a feature-length horror film on the part of director Hardy. “The Hallow” should join the list of recent refreshingly good horror films like “The Babadook” and “It Follows.”
The film is opening in select theaters starting on Nov. 6, and will be available on VOD and other digital platforms beginning on Nov. 5.
Email Dejarelle Gaines at [email protected]