Director: Corin Hardy
Cast: Joseph Mawle, Bojana Novakovic, Michael McElhatton, Michael Smiley
Running Time: 97 minutes
When it comes to monster movies, I think us horror fans are largely let down by what the genre more often than not delivers in this age of soulless CGI. In fact, I can’t even remember a recent example of a fright flick filled with brutal beasties that you could really call effective.
Thankfully, music video maestro Corin Hardy has put that right with his feature film debut THE HALLOW, a fantastic Grimm-inspired twisted modern fairytale in which childhood sweethearts Adam and Clare Hitchens (Joseph Mawle and Bojana Novakovic), along with their newborn son Finn, find their migration to a remote Ireland location brings a bucketload of bad luck. Hardy gets committed performances from his central two leads, and what movie wouldn’t be improved by more of the magnificent Michael Smiley?
Hardy’s decision to go old-school in the main with a practical effects approach is great one, and he conjures up some startling imagery that genre fans will no doubt lap up while longing for the glory days of make-up masters like Rick Baker and Rob Bottin. Comparisons with John Carpenter’s paranoia fuelled classic THE THING will no doubt creep up into conversation but THE HALLOW feels more STRAW DOGS meets THE DESCENT as the Hitchens family fight to survive the night when the marauding evil presence outside come banging on the door to pour scorn on the new life they’ve created in the Irish wilderness.
It’s a simple and recognisable premise of strangers trespassing where bizarre fairy-like creatures have been living in the woods undisturbed for centuries. Hardy however borrows from the best to craft a creature-feature of the creepiest calibre! The addition of the cursed folklore familiar to AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON seeps through some stunning cinematography as the intensity never lets up right from the off.
If there’s one major flaw with THE HALLOW it’s in mixing its superb monstrous make-up with a little visual effects work. The filmmaker and his team obviously don’t have the budget of blockbuster standards and sometimes they fail to convince alongside some pretty damn impressive prosthetics. Still, as a highly effective horror, and a first time feature from a rising talent, THE HALLOW delivers a grotesque and nightmarish vision that deserves to be sought out and is only second to IT FOLLOWS as the best true horror film to be released this year.
Fear not, Relativity Studios’ remake of THE CROW is in safe hands.
THE HALLOW is released in UK cinemas November 13.