THE HALLOW (2015)
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Story finds British tree doctor Adam Hitchens (Game Of Thrones‘ Joseph Mawle) moving into a remote Irish house to examine the trees of the local forest which is being sold to a logging company. As he settles in with his wife, Claire (Bojana Novakovic) and their infant son, strange things start to happen. The locals claim he is trespassing on the land of “The Hallow”, fey creatures that live in those woods and who will not be happy about his intrusion. Whether it be superstitious locals or creatures of legend, something is stalking the Hitchens family for some malevolent purpose.
Spooky flick is atmospherically directed by Corin Hardy from a script by Hardy and Felipe Marino. The director has a nice visual eye and gives his horror a strong style, as well as, a sense of foreboding. We know early on the Hitchens family has disturbed something primeval and we only get glimpses of these fairie creatures here and there, just enough to let us know that something unearthly is out and about. Once the story reaches the point of outright confrontation with the forest dwellers, we get some really cool and well rendered prosthetic creatures and a tense cat and mouse chase with our beleaguered family. There is some interesting side effects of contact with these creatures and it adds to the spookiness of the film that one family member maybe changing into something out of a nightmare, while being pursued by these creatures of the night. It’s not an outright scary flick, but it is a fun monster movie with some really nice prosthetic effects and a touching nod to Stan Winston in the credits that adds a sentimental charm to their use. It’s obvious to pick out elements from various horrors that have inspired Hardy, but he pays homage to them well and these elements blend effectively in this dark fairy tale-like story.
While there are some local supporting characters, who are creepy in themselves, it’s basically all Mawle and Novakovic. Joseph Mawle does a solid job as the scientist who, obviously, thinks all this talk of dangerous fairy creatures is hokum…until they are staring him in the face. He rises to the occasion to battle these things and adds a touch of nobility when he falls under their influence. Bojana Novakovic portrays a gutsy and strong woman and mother, who fights tooth and nail against these creatures of legend and gives us a character to get behind and root for. They also have a nice chemistry together and they are very believable as a couple.
Overall, this is an entertaining monster flick with definite influences from other horror classics that blends them into an entertaining dark fantasy. There are some very spooky sequences, interestingly designed creatures and some intense action, with some delightfully in-camera rendered SPFX. The beautiful cinematography by Martijn Van Broekhuizen only enhances Corin Hardy’s visual style and James Gosling’s music adds to the already atmospheric flick. Maybe not an outright scary movie, but an entertaining horror and an indication that good things might be coming from Corin Hardy.
3 very unwelcome tree doctors.