The Hallow (2015) - This film takes something that is an innocent fable and changes it into something complex and frightening that is not expected but totally enjoyed. The hallow is a story about the faerie people but not the little leprechauns we know and love. These mischievous and dangerous beings are territorial demons who do not appreciate trespassers. So when a conservationist Adam Hitchens (Joseph Mawle) is sent to a small Irish village to look at the forest where the fairies creatures live he, his wife Clare (Bojana Novakovic) and baby are treading into unknown danger. Director Corin Hardy in his debut feature. The Book of Invasions is quoted to open the film "Hallow be their name, And blessed be their claim.If you who trespass put down roots, The Hallow be your name." Shot in Ireland in five different forests the film is about what is under the surface what is under the myths and fairy tales as the director says in his commentary on the Scream Factory Blu ray. The film opens with or male lead hiking through the forest, baby in a carrier on his back and dog in tow marking trees in the forest and taking samples for them. His lovely wife is back at their new abode taking the iron bars off the windows of the house. The music is gentle but with just a hint of foreboding as Adams while looking for the dog crosses a bridge into the deeper part of the forest and comes across a ruined house. In the house is the carcass of a deer with a broken neck in the corner of a room. A fungus on the creature gets the attention of Adam and he takes a sample.
Meanwhile back at the house neighbor Colm Donelly comes to see Adam while he is away. Played with a stoic intimidation by Michael McElhatton the actor captures the idea of a local who does not want outsiders to be poking around. As the movie progresses we learn the reasoning behind his interest in the new family. He believes in the fairy creatures in the wood and is trying with a grieving passion to get them to understand the danger. He has lost a daughter in those woods and knows the danger. Unfortunately trying to scare people away through intimidation and unfriendliness never works and so his story gets a bit muted in the film. The actors intensity in the role really sells it but the script probably could have done more with him. In the early stages of the film it is a drama with the couple the forest and the community. Outsiders are not particularly welcome but there all the same and these story structures work. Note: Director Hardy makes a note about a visual reference to the movie the Thing, did you see it? After bringing the sludge back to the house we see the dripping black slime coming from the ceiling beams hmmm.... Could that and the talk of the ant fungus have anything to do with the slime? The exposition is about fungus mind control and they have both touched it. This is a nice possible reading of the film where maybe the slime allows the couple to see the creatures?
As the story progresses we see scary occasions and more warning but it seems our couple is already on the path and so with each event they dig their heels in and try to cope with what is happening instead of cutting and running. We see the creatures a bit here and there and they are getting closer. Still the script is suggesting that the neighbor Colm is responsible for the stranger and stranger occurrences happening. It is a nice idea having the neighbor seem so forceful Clare has this real life threat while Adam has more and more supernatural experiences. Our couple from London can't believe the local myths even as the community tries to warn them but at the same time things are getting weirder and weirder. It really goes on growing in intensity as the couple is besieged by the woodland demons. The sound design in the tension filled scenes really give a mood that puts the viewer into the action.
The turn into the monster movie is about halfway through the film. Adam thinking still that Colm is behind the power going out in his house searches the place with a loaded shotgun. He is fighting to be brave enough the fight. Then they look at the book that Colm left for them and we start shifting into the supernatural. The idea of the Changling and the reveal of the very creepy looking Hallow makes for a build into the third act that really works well. They try to flee as the creatures close in and they of course in classic horror fashion can not get the car to start. After crashing and realizing the Hallow are real we reach the a heightened fairy-tale. Adam gets infected by the black fungus of the hallow and so we move onto the final part of the film. Adam moves into the transformation reminiscent of Jeff Goldblum's transformation in The Fly.
It is a fight for survival the couple knows that daylight will be their savior if the can make it to dawn. They know bright light hurt the creatures so how will they manage until morning. The creatures though are finding their way into the home, based on the idea that the creatures are woods based and will be able to do that. We see the rot seeping in through the wood of the house and the couple struggling to get the generator going to drive them away. A wonderfully tense and exciting scene where the creatures are finding routes in and Adam struggles with the machinery. I am really repulsed by the eye trauma possibility and it is so close it is viscerally uncomfortable. Adam is infected and although the family gets a reprieve he has to struggle personally knowing that he is changing into one of the creatures. They get some time to put the iron bars back onto the house, to try to protect themselves during the siege. We get another classic idea of the generator running out of fuel and knowing morning is still too far away. Adam changing into the creature suddenly may not be trustworthy. The the turn into the finally when the baby is taken this setting up the climactic scenes of this fine monster movie.
So we get to the the final twenty-five minutes where Adam fights for his humanity, and Clare runs into the forest to get her child from the creatures. I won't go too much further here sharing the finer plot points as this wonderfully entertaining movie should not be spoiled. We get lots of wonderful practical monster effects that are so worth the effort because they look great and real which is lost in so many cgi filled movies. I very much enjoyed this film and wish all of you to go out and find it. The Scream factory blu-ray version I have comes with a making of documentary and commentary by the director. another feature is the art and story boards that make the version good but I would have loved more people in the commentary because the give and take and how people remember things often makes for better stories. Still considering this was Corin Hardy's first go he does a fine job sharing during the film. He has a writing credit with Felipe Marino and the film is really well put together. He does an even better job on the film itself. I am glad to have this one in my extensive horror movie collection.
As I have done so far this year; I am doing as an experiment my Twitter
is dedicated to following and being followed by
people in and behind the scenes. Then I am also hoping some of them
follow me back. It really is an experiment and where I love the horror community it is a way to keep track of what is going on by the people involved in it. I am now following over 130 people while the
followers is only 15 so as you can see people in the biz do not follow
just anyone back. :)