The Hole in the Ground – Film Review by Fran Winston
Directed by: Lee Cronin
Starring: Seána Kerslake, James Cosmo, Simone Kirby, Steve Wall, James Quinn Markey
In cinemas March 1st
Irish horror films can be a bit hit and miss. Although we have a fantastic history of storytelling, folklore and yarns, this doesn’t always translate onto the big screen. Sometimes this is down to a poor interpretation of story and sometimes it is simply that modern audiences expect more bang for their buck and budgets don’t usually allow for the sophisticated CGI that they are accustomed to. Personally, I’ve always been a fan of old school horror where filmmakers try to make us jump with the creek in the floorboards or a bang at the door and overall this is what The Hole in the Ground goes for.
It follows young mum Sarah (Kerslake) who moves to a remote house with her young son Chris (Quinn Markey). As soon as they arrive peculiar things start happening. Reluctant to believe the rantings of a disturbed neighbour who claims Chris is not her son she becomes more and more unnerved until she has to face her worst fears.
The title comes from a sinkhole at the back of the property they live in. We never find out why it is there or what caused it but it plays a significant part in the climax. This is just one of the disjointed things about this film. Cronin does a great job of building tension, the cinematography is beautiful and designed for maximum eeriness and the sound mixing and score are fantastic and will send shivers down your spine. Kerslake is fantastic as the terrified young mum and Quinn Markey has definitely earned his place in the creepy children of horror canon. However, all these efforts are sometimes let down by the fact that the audience is supposed to simply accept certain things without explanation.
This has been lauded at festivals and rightly so. It is a fabulous debut offering. But it is not the masterpiece that some have exclaimed. It shows fantastic promise for the future but the ending is too predictable, there are too many plot holes, too many things are left unexplained or underdeveloped and the payoff is not satisfying enough to make this truly great. The slow burn is brilliant and the first hour of this is excellent but as Chris descends further into a dark world it becomes quite silly at times.
Overall, this is a solid horror that pays homage to many classics that went before it. The fact that it’s Irish is a bonus. It is creepy enough to satisfy fans of the genre but perhaps too predictable for truly hard-core aficionados.
It will be interesting to see what Cronin does next but for now this is a suitably shivery 90 minutes that is worth a look.