The Hallow is a 2015 film from English director Corin Hardy, who has since gone on to direct 2018’s The Nun for James Wan. The film stars Joseph Mawle, who appeared in 2011’s The Awakening, as well as the 2012 Tim Burton production, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Mawle, however, is presumably best known for his brief role as “Benjen Stark” on Game of Thrones, a show I will generally never mention unless it is in reference to a performer’s other roles. The Hallow co-stars Bojana Novakovic, who also featured in Edge of Darkness, Beyond Skyline, and Drag Me to Hell.
Adam (Mawle), a government conservationist, is sent to a small Irish village that is surrounded by a large forest, in order to identify and catalog trees plagued with fungi which may cause a threat to the forest as a whole. Taking his wife, Clare (Novakovic), and infant son, Finn, the family move into a cottage located in the forest to better help Adam with his research. Believing the forest to be inhabited by mythical creatures called “the Hallow”, the locals are none too happy about the family’s presence.
While out surveying the trees, Adam discovers a strange fungus that has erupted from the corpse of what appears to have once been a deer. Taking a sample of the substance back home for further study, he discovers that the organism is parasitic, forcefully assimilating any living tissue that becomes it’s host.
That same evening, police are called after the window to Finn’s bedroom is smashed. The dispatching officer inspects the place, but ultimately attributes the disturbance to a “drunken bird”. He does, however, tell the couple of the local legend regarding the woods, but does claim it to be superstitious nonsense (although, he is quite possibly lying to protect his reputation). Clare is a little unsettled by the tales, while Adam remains skeptical, believing the real culprit to be Colm Donnelly (Michael McElhatton, who had a longer run on GoT as “Roose Bolton”, and also appeared in 2017’s Justice League), a local who has been quite vocal that the couple should leave. Donnelly, however, does have legitimate reason to fear the woods, having had his young daughter go missing years prior.
Any doubts that the couple may have had are put to rest when the creatures once again launch an assault on the home. The family attempts to flee on foot, but don’t get very far before being forced to return to the house. It’s here that Adam suffers a serious injury that hampers his efforts to protect his family, and potentially jeopardizes their survival as well.
Everything that I’ve just described occurs within the first 40 minutes (or so) of The Hallow, leaving the film with another hour of run time to fill. In time, Adam finds himself with no choice but to enter the creatures’ underground lair. It’s also around this same time that things start to get a little convoluted and confusing, bringing in a somewhat unnecessary subplot of hallucinations, distrust, and potential dopplegangers. The film’s pacing, somewhat arguably, begins to drag a bit, even if there is a decent variety of intriguing monsters present to fill the screen with dread.
The Hallow showcases some cool creature designs and effects, in addition to impressive cinematography and solid performances from its leads. Just as impressive, The Hallow serves as a “biological horror” film, as well as a “monster movie”, which may make it seem a little more timely for our current world situation. All in all, The Hallow is a very well made movie!
It’s just a very well made movie that I didn’t “love”.
Maybe the story got a bit too sappy at times, and possibly a touch predictable? Maybe I wanted a bit more creature carnage and a pinch less character arc? Whatever the reason, I just wasn’t “wowed” by the finished product. While I would most certainly recommend giving The Hallow a watch, it’s just not a title that I see lasting in my memory for very long, nor do I foresee it becoming anyone’s favorite horror film. Then again, what do I know? These are just opinions, folks!
The Hallow was director Hardy’s feature film debut, having previously directed music videos for acts such as Keane and The Prodigy. The Hallow was originally filmed under the title of “The Woods”, but was presumably changed not only to avoid confusion with Lucky McKee’s generally disregarded 2006 horror film of the same name (I enjoyed it, personally), but also because as far as generic film titles go, “The Woods” is near the top of the list! As far as music directors-turned-film directors go, I feel that Hardy made a better first impression than most. More so than Marcus Nispel (Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake), in my opinion, or Samuel Bayer (A Nightmare on Elm St. remake), in EVERYONE’S opinion.
AMAZON LINK: https://amzn.to/3fb9nHF