Monday, June 27, 2016

I Found Benjen Stark! He’s In The Hallow!

Perhaps it's the Game of Thrones influence, but Ireland seems to be putting out a nice supply of well-made horror films, including the recent The Canal and The Citadel. Add The Hallow to that growing list of quality horror flicks whose title starts with “The” and whose cast generally includes at least a few Westrosi power players. 

Quick Plot: Adam is an arborist living deep in the woods of Ireland with his wife Claire, infant son Finn, and dog Iggy (note to the sensitive: don’t get too attached to the latter). Locals are none too happy with this arrangement, as they fear both the mythical monsters haunting the forest and the threat of industry moving in and taking their long-protected home. 

Bricks-through-the-window and ominous townie-issued threats aside, it’s clearly an idyllic time for the young couple. 

Well, for the first fifteen minutes of the movie that is.

Before you know it, aforementioned mythical monsters have made themselves known, infecting Ada, wiping out Iggy, swiping Finn, and terrifying Claire.

The Hallow takes place entirely over one horrid night, as Claire must try to protect Finn from the array of forest creatures and the transformed Adam, now fully convinced that the baby in his wife’s arms is actually a changeling. As Adam’s condition worsens and the locals lock their doors, Claire must survive the night on her own.

Written and directed by first time filmmaker Corin Hardy, The Hallow is a very solid little foray into horror. It does little to rewrite a working formula or bring anything that new to it, but the actors connect, the setting dazzles, and the monsters are genuinely interesting to watch onscreen. This doesn’t break any mold, but it’s a creepy and effective little blend of fairy tales, sieges, and nature strikes back horror. 

High Points
The actual design of the hallow creatures is quite interesting, using the idea and form of branches and other woodsy elements to form a unique spin on fairy tale monsters

Credit goes to some adorable credits, that follow the standard “No animals were harmed during the making of this film” with the less common but earnest “No changelings were harmed during the making of this film”

Low Points
I can’t quite put my finger on what’s missing in The Hallow, but there’s just something that keeps this film from crossing over into truly special territory. It’s well-acted, well-shot, and well-written, but there’s just nothing that unique or surprising to make it overly memorable. 

Lessons Learned
When your friendly neighborhood policeman is played by Ben Wheatley regular Michael Smiley and your closest neighbor is Roose Bolton, you should probably know that you’re not in the best hands

Iron bars might not be the most inviting way to decorate your windows, but if they keep the evil wood monsters away from your baby, perhaps you should get over your HGTV snobbery and deal with it

There are different sorts of boogeymen in Belfast

The Hallow is currently streaming on Netflix Instant, and it’s well worth a watch. This isn’t necessarily on the highest tier of new horror, but it’s a quality outing that demonstrates some promising potential from filmmaker Corin Hardy. I look forward to seeing what else he can do. 

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