New Horror Releases: The Hole in the Ground (2019) - Reviewed

Hype is a dangerous thing. It can catapult a nobody into stardom or disappoint the masses by bragging about a higher bar than it can jump. The Hole in the Ground, the latest horror film born from the womb of Irish originality, has been likened to The VVitch , The Babadook and Hereditary, all films that suffered the guillotine of hype, to both sides of the blade.

Released on March 1st 2019, The Hole in the Ground is the story of a mother, Sarah (Seána Kerslake), fleeing from a bad past. Together with her young son, Chris (James Quinn Markey), she tries to build a new life in a rural town. After a deeply unnerving encounter with a mysterious neighbor, Sarah’s sensibilities are under threat and she finds herself descending into a nightmarish state of paranoia when she starts noticing that her son’s behavior is changing significantly. Her world becomes even darker and more terrifying when it becomes evident that young Chris’ sudden changes are connected to a giant, ominous sinkhole deep in the forest where they live.

Co-written and directed by Lee Cronin (Ghost Train, 2013), the film does not waste any time to hurl us into tension in the very first scene. The pace is kept up well throughout the film, balancing scenes of authentic and raw creepiness with scenes of psychological unease – almost like a very dark fairy tale. The latter is mostly due to the exquisite cinematography that, along with location, lends its own atmosphere to the film’s slow-crawling horror. Along with the splendid use of camera and lighting, the score manages to run a dead finger up the nape of your neck too.

To add to the credibility of the cast, The Hole in the Ground boasts the likes of James Cosmo (Braveheart, Troy, Trainspotting and Highlander, to name a few) and Finnish star, Kati Outinen in the roles of Sarah’s striking and tragic neighbors.

What makes The Hole in the Ground a notable horror film is that it successfully conveys the emotional discomfort and distrust of the main character in such a way that it draws the viewer into her paranoia. This reminds us that not all fear comes from scares and monstrous faces, but that true, effective horror slithers in through less obvious doors of perception. The sinkhole for one is a menacing sight of terrible mystery, one that does not reveal its nature until the climax of the film.

In the past few years especially, the Irish Film Board has been involved in some of the most engaging and unique horror films, such as The Lodgers and Wake Wood, both also beautifully filmed and properly terrifying. Now they strike gold being involved with the seemingly unassuming gem that is The Hole in the Ground, which is NOT like The VVitch, The Babadook or Hereditary at all, in my opinion. It holds its own and brings a different concept afore, something you have not seen before, like it or hate it.

Once more, originality bonds with well-relayed doom to sate those hungry horror fans who are fed-up with repetitive and overdone garbage. The Hole in the Ground is like a toothless old hag who wants to kiss you with her saliva-riddled mouth…and you might just let her.

--Tasha Danzig