Directed by: Lee Cronin – Starring: Seána Kerslake, James Cosmo, Simone Kirby, Steve Wall, James Quinn Markey
Irish horror films can be a bit hit and miss. Although we have a fantastic history of storytelling, folklore, and yarns, this doesn’t always translate onto the big-screen. Sometimes, this is down to a poor interpretation of story, and sometimes it is simply that modern audiences expect more bang for their buck, and budgets don’t usually allow for the sophisticated CGI that they are accustomed to.
Personally I’ve always been a fan of old-school horror, where filmmakers try to make me jump with the creek in the floorboards or a bang at the door, and overall this is what The Hole in the Ground goes for.
It follows young mum, Sarah (Kerslake) who moves to a remote house with her young son, Chris (Quinn Markey). As soon as they arrive, peculiar things begin happening, and Chris starts acting strangely. Reluctant to believe the rantings of a disturbed neighbour who claims Chris is not her son, she becomes more and more unnerved, until she has to face her worst fears.
The title comes from a sinkhole at the back of the property where they live. We never find out why it is there, or what caused it, but it plays a significant part in the climax. This is just one of the disjointing things about this film. Cronin does a great job of building tension, the cinematography is beautiful, and designed for maximum eeriness, and the sound mixing and score are fantastic, and will send shivers down your spine.
Kerslake is fantastic as the terrified young mum, and Quinn Markey has definitely earned his place in the creepy children of horror canon. However, all these efforts are sometimes let down by the fact that the audience is supposed to simply accept certain things without explanation.
This has been lauded at festivals and rightly so. It is a fabulous debut offering. But it is not the masterpiece that some have exclaimed. It shows fantastic promise for the future, but the ending is too predictable, there are too many plot holes, too many things are left unexplained or underdeveloped, and the payoff is too unsatisfying to make this truly great. The slow burn is brilliant, and the first hour of this is excellent, but as Chris descends further into a dark world it becomes quite silly at times.
Overall, this is a solid horror that pays homage to many classics that went before it. The fact that its Irish is a bonus. It is creepy enough to satisfy fans of the genre, but perhaps too predictable for truly hard-core aficionados.
It will be interesting to see what Cronin does next, but for now this is a suitably shivery 90 minutes that is worth a look.
In Cinemas Now!