Reviews: The Hallow

Patrick has seen The Hallow. Find out his thoughts right here. Don't be scared. 

"It's my favorite position."

Horror movies often walk a line not present in other genres.  A horror movie can be a “bad” movie, by some objective measure, and yet still be a perfectly enjoyable work of horrific fiction.  This phenomenon can take many forms – ├╝ber violent slashers devoid of story or care, monster-of-the-week fare with abysmal acting, or even the occasional unintentionally hilarious horror campfest.  The Hallow falls into none of these categories, but still manages to walk the line between “bad” movie and “good” horror – occasionally plunging deep into one side or the other.

Offering competent performances from its extremely small cast, and some tight and occasionally gorgeous camerawork, The Hallow certainly succeeds from a technical standpoint.  In fact, from a purely technical perspective, the film is far better than the sum of its parts.  Director Corin Hardy, in his first feature film, demonstrates a rare appreciation for the subtlety necessary for a great horror movie.  After an arguably too slow first act, the tension is ramped up dramatically, with several hold-your-breath moments with clever and occasionally claustrophobic shots.  Sometimes a terrifying bit of imagery is hidden in the frame, and in others the audience may find themselves simply imagining them.  It’s precisely the sort of beautiful, atmospheric horror that many fans of more nuanced entries in the genre can appreciate.

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The set design captures the unspoiled beauty of rural Ireland, and much of the horrific imagery of the film deftly melds practical and computer-generated effects, often seamlessly.  The third act also gives the audience several clear and uninterrupted views of our villains, allowing the design and effects to be better appreciated – a moment often missing from other modern horror movies.  

"Ahhhh, so that's where
Uncle Benjen's been hiding."
Technicality aside, however, The Hallow is less than impressive.  The film’s small cast of characters are one-dimensional and predictable.  Adequately well-performed, namely by Game of Thrones alums Joseph Mawle and Michael McElhatton, much of this shortcoming falls on a weak script and sparse, sometimes uninteresting dialogue.  Thematically the movie encounters a few pitfalls as well.  The well-tread “home invasion” moments are utilized often, but only rarely with any real impact.  The film hints at some more true-to-life horror in its themes of deforestation and biological mysteries, but neither are explored in any real fasion.

But, as many great horror films of the past have proven, sometimes an interesting and novel plot and robust characters just aren’t necessary to make an enjoyable horror experience.  Visit Ireland and The Hallow to enjoy the views – both the gorgeous, and the grotesque.


-Patrick B. McDonald