“Hallow be their name and blest be their claim. If you who trespass put down roots, then Hallow be your name.”
This strange and foreboding quote from the ancient Irish text Lebor Gabála Érenn also known as The Book of Invasions opens Corin Hardy’s The Hallow foreshadowing the story perfectly while also evoking the eerie pagan power that lurks within the timeless Irish forest the film is set in.
This woodland is where British conservationist Adam (Ripper Street and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter star Joseph Mawle) works having moved to the area with his wife Clare (Bojana Novakovic from Drag me to Hell) and their baby boy although none of them feel very welcomed being that the locals spend most of their time warning them away from the forest.
Ignoring the threats and concerns of the general populace seeing them as superstitious nonsense Adam a man of science continues his work stumbling on to a strange black substance that seems to be a mind controlling fungus on a mutilated deer bringing it home to study.
When their home is invaded and the dark goo starts dripping from their ceiling onto their young child’s bed the couple starts to suspect something seriously strange is happening. Little do they know this is only the start of an unholy attack from an army of creatures who they have angered beyond reparation.
Blending elements of The Thing, Straw Dogs, The Evil Dead and the films of Guillermo del Toro Corin Hardy’s first feature caused a mighty stir at FrightFest with a sold out screenings and an immense amount of buzz being that his next project is a remake of the action goth classic The Crow.
Although not as amazing as many made out at the time The Hallow is an excellent horror using ancient Irish folklore as a basis for a chilling movie that builds brilliantly and changes gear midway through to bring something very different to the story the audience might have been lead to expect.
Without giving too much away this switch to the usual structure infuses the film with energy making the second half a roller coaster ride through the moon drenched forest as the couple fight for their lives and their baby’s safety against faeries, changelings and ultimately each other.
Made up of a minimal cast including Michael Smiley as the local police officer and Game of Thrones Michael McElhatton as the malevolent neighbor the leads Mawle and Novakovic give powerful performances and some of the most disturbing and unsettling moments come from the drama and emotional trauma the couple goes through rather than the actual monsters.
That’s not to say the creatures aren’t fearsomely frightening as the special effects in The Hallow are truly stunning with the menagerie of twisted beings made using CGI and practical effects kept in the shadows till midway through where they are revealed in gory glory
A dark twisted fairy tale Corin Hardy’s feature debut as writer and directed is an accomplished feat packed full of tense scenes and stunning creatures that perfectly displays his potential as a talented new horror director with hopefully a great career ahead of him.