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The Hallow

Posted on November 9, 2015

Don’t Go Into the Woods: The Hallow

Dawn

Unrated |   97 min   |   Corin Hardy |   (UK-Ireland)   |   2015

Synopsis: A couple, Adam and Claire Hitchens (Joseph Mawle and Bojana Novakovic), along with their baby, Finn, go to stay in a house deep in the Irish forest, which has just been sold for development, and discover there is a frightening truth to local folklore about “the hallow”—fairies and other supernatural creatures who want humans to stay out of their woods.

1. Hallow, opening quotation

Grade: B-

I really wanted to like The Hallow, and I’d been looking forward to its release onto VOD in the US (on November 6) for months. While there are certainly some interesting aspects to the film, overall I have to say that it was a pretty big disappointment.

The Hallow is firmly in the folk horror tradition, the crucial components of which I mapped out in an earlier post. It is dominated by the landscape (beautifully shot, despite the film’s other limitations), located in an isolated community, and the narrative is driven by archaic occult beliefs. The film also, though, draws liberally from other kinds of horror. At times, it fairly self-consciously evokes creature features—Alien (1979) and The Thing (1982)—as well as what could be called the “possessed patriarch” films—The Amityville Horror (1979) and The Shining (1982). The creatures were also reminiscent of those in Neil Marshall’s brilliant The Descent (2005)—and the two films share something of a narrative trajectory. While horror films always draw on other horror films, though, The Hallow may do so a bit too wildly and without shaping its borrowings into something distinctively its own.

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