The Hallow is an Anglo Irish psychological fantasy horror, directed by debutant Corin Hardy, following a young couple who up sticks for an idyllic rural life among the trees of one of Ireland’s most ancient forests.
Unfortunately, Adam (played by Joseph Mawle) is a surveyor for a large corporation that has designs on the area’s natural resources. With a doff a doff of the cap to Irish (and indeed British) government plans to sell off forests, Hardy weaves a tale in which we learn that the woodland folk and little people of lore exist and they aren’t quite so amenable to the plans.
Hardy has built a reputation for himself for the quality of his short films and he carries his slick, stylised storytelling into The Hallow. A mix of cold blues and greens dominates the lighting during daylight scenes, while the more claustrophobic night shots adopt a monochromatic palette.
The Hallow starts well enough; we get to know the characters, though you quickly realise that both Adam and Clare (played Bojana Novakovic) are idiots. They fall for the oldest horror film ‘Don’t Do That’ in the book.
When a writer sits down to write the screenplay or script for a film, he/she must, in the back of their mind, base the principal characters on people from the real world. Are there really people out there who cannot take the simplest and most helpful advice?
When a wild-eyed local warns them to “Stay out of the Woods” and a dead stag is discovered infested by an organic black ooze – which later starts to seep through the roof of their baby’s bedroom – most sensible human beings would pack up the Volvo hatchback and head for the nearest motorway, tout de suite.
But these are characters in a horror film and if there is a darkened loft to explore with no functioning light fittings, you just know that that is where the story is going to take them.
The Hallow ticks creepily along and probably would have made a more accomplished piece if the knotted residents of the Hallow hadn’t turned up so early. Instead, the ancient woodland faeries and sprites unleashed by Hardy overrun proceedings and it just becomes tiresome.
A big part of psychological horror is fear of the unknown. Regrettably, after a promising start, Hardy signposts the latter part of the film through all the old horror clichés. It’s good fun but by no means a classic.
In cinemas nationwide from Friday 13 November 2015