The Hallow Movie Review
Written by Hamzah Sarwar
Released by Entertainment One
Directed by Corin Hardy
Written by Corin Hardy and Felipe Marino
2015, 97 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
Released on 13th November 2015
Joseph Mawle as Adam Hitchens
Bojana Novakovic as Clare Hitchens
Michael McElhatton as Colm Donnelly
Michael Smiley as Garda Davey
Gary Lydon as Doyle
Corin Hardy's bloody creature feature is a mystical ode to Irish Folklore that elevates above genre norms to land an emotional punch. The enduring power of a mother's love is a glowing citadel that stands firm against the demons of darkness. It’s a riveting marriage of gruelling body horror and dark fairy-tale that captures the essence of fear. The well written characters feel authentic and the danger posed to them evokes a sense of dread. The ghostly face of evil juxtaposed with the purity of innocence forms a powerful conflict. At times it does feel like Hardy has thrown too many ideas into the mixer. Protagonists often make bizarre choices and there are moments where The Hallow is trying to be too many things at once. Despite the mishmash, the surrealism of the urban myth and superb setting are thoroughly immersive. Hardy's creature effects are authentic and terrifying, which really evoke a sense of discomfort.
When new parents Adam and Clare relocate deep into the heart of the Irish countryside with their new-born son, they are warned to stay clear of the woodland surrounding their home by members of the local community. Adam is a conservationist tasked to research the forest and dismisses the warning out of hand. It’s not long before the threat of the enchanted woodland disrupts reality and pervades the couple’s safety. There’s a fable here about preserving history, respecting tradition and treasuring the ideology of sacred beliefs. Ancient superstition clashes with progressive science; demonic fairies and nymphs are vengeful entities intent on exacting revenge on humanity. Holding a somewhat symbiotic bond with nature; these fungi-infused monsters serve as a metaphor for nature fighting back against generations of exploitation, but also a reminder of the of Mother Earth’s unpredictable nature. The old-school creature effects evoke the spirit of the late Ray Harryhausen in a badass melee of violence and sustained threat.
Despite all its eco-warrior pre-text and foreshadowing of nature’s backlash, Hardy elicits emotion through the simplest of means: exposing an infant to primal danger. The power of a mother’s love and instinctive urge to protect her offspring is the driving force of The Hallow; it’s like an electric charge coursing through the veins of each frame. When it becomes clear there is a plot to kidnap the baby, the realm of reality and fiction become increasingly blurred. The folklore inspiration introduces the ‘changeling’: a fairy child that had been left in place of a human child stolen by the fairies. It’s a common theme in medieval literature and it proves to be a dramatic fulcrum to build tension. Although the narrative swings in numerous directions, the preservation of innocence remains at the core of the story.
The grisly body horror will satisfy the gore hounds, the transformative appearance of Adam is quite remarkable as he is engulfed by the fungal overgrowth. The Hallow is a fine achievement for low budget indie horror. Corin Hardy’s next assignment is The Crow remake, there’s definitely room for excitement.