Starring Joseph Mawle, Bojana Novakovic, Michael McElhatton
Irish film The Hallow begins like any other horror movie, with a couple moving into a secluded new home with strange neighbors. Both lead actor Mawle and supporting actor McElhatton are Game of Thrones alum, dabbling in genre films during the off season. The Hallow feels at first like one of those episodes of The X-Files where Mulder & Scully find creepy things in the woods, however it quickly reduces itself to a situational horror film where scares are not earned but manipulated with sound effects. The Hallow falls even further towards a 90’s era C-rate horror film, as it prevents the main characters from using their brains or creating reason within the story.
Adam (Mawle) and Claire (Novakovic) Hitchens have only recently moved into a new house with their newborn baby, so Adam can work within the forest. As he takes daily walks through the Irish woods, marking trees to be cut down, the entire community becomes restless with the Hitchens presence. Nearby neighbor Colm Donnelly (McElhatton) warns the couple to leave, dropping off a book of “fairytales” Adam refuses to read. The sheriff informs the couple of the superstitious locals when he pays them a visit over a broken window they believe caused by eager Mr. Donnelly. Strange things begin to happen, soon Adam and Claire begin to fear for their lives.
Situational horror film where scares are not earned but manipulated with sound effects.
The concept of an Irish folklore, where creatures from the wood come out to snatch babies, is actually pretty intriguing. If the screenplay could have expanded this concept into a moody and developed story, where characters were more than just people on screen, it might have been something worth watching. Yet as it remains, The Hallow is nothing more than one of those movies where antagonistic characters creep and stalk around, giving ominous warnings instead of explaining what’s happening outright. The protagonists are equally frustrating, as they completely panic in one scene then in the next, act as if a monster didn’t just try to gouge their eyes out.
The one thing this poorly written script does use to an effective advantage is the newborn. Adam constantly wearing the child on his pack or traveling down creepy roads with the 1-year-old in the backseat keeps the audience on edge. Baby Gage actually plays very prominently into the plot, so he isn’t just there to provide tension. The Hallow creatures are beyond terrifying and they certainly get their moment on film which I think only makes them less scary because we see them so often. The script hopes you won’t ask the question why these things have clear control of the woods, yet everyone knows about them, and does nothing. Guess the town folk are just as lazy as the filmmakers.
Relies completely on noises and creatures to scare the viewer instead of clever storytelling.