After its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, The Hole in the Ground (an Irish horror film produced by A24, like Hereditary) will have its worldwide theatrical release on March 1st.
I was able to get a screener version in advance but, to my knowledge, the movie has unfortunately leaked due to piracy: if you can, wait until it’s in theatres or on VOD to watch it, because I believe indie filmmakers (like Lee Cronin, director of The Hole in the Ground) deserve all the financial support. You can also click on the image below to preorder a copy of the movie:
Back to the movie, the story follows mom and son (Sarah and Chris O’Neill) trying to escape from a broken past to a rural town set in very atmospheric woods. After a couple of creepy occurrences, which might have to do with a huge sinkhole nearby their new house, Sarah (Seána Kerslake) is convinced her son is not him anymore: an “impostor” might have taken over his body! But where’s the real Chris? Who’s this impostor? Is Sarah just imagining the whole ordeal?
The first reviews that came out after its Sundance stint, were describing The Hole in the Ground as “the scariest Irish horror film ever” or “scary as hell”, and such. Please, stop with this rubbish, pandering marketing gimmick: it’s manipulative and it only makes people who aren’t familiar with marketing techniques go into the movie with insanely high expectations that will most likely be failed.
In fact, The Hole in the Ground doesn’t have any spooky or frightening element that you haven’t seen done a billion times before. That said, I would still consider it a slow-burning, moody and enjoyable little movie. Nothing more, though.
Continue reading and check my final grade below…
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The thing is that you’d expect a notorious film festival like Sundance to pick horror films that have something refreshing or original to them. The Blair Witch Project, American Psycho, Saw, 28 Days Later, The Descent, The Witch, Get Out and Hereditary: all these movies premiered at Sundance at some point and, whether you like them or not, it’s undeniable they all feature at least some creative or unconventional elements (either in terms of story or technical execution). Even a movie like Velvet Buzzsaw, which I personally didn’t care for, deserves to premiere at a prestigious festival.
The Hole in the Ground, on the other hand, has not a single aspect that makes it stand out among the crowd of PG-13 supernatural horror flicks.
Don’t get me wrong, though, there’s plenty to like about this film. The acting by Seána Kerslake is solid and compelling: she has a proper character to portray and, as a result, she becomes a sympathetic protagonist you really get invested in. in general, the performances in the movie are rather convincing, even the little kid who plays Chris does a very decent job for a child actor.
Due to the moody colour palette and the beautiful locations, The Hole in the Ground manages to create a very nice, somewhat bleak atmosphere that pulls you into the story and makes the viewing experience never boring or dull. Yet, the score, albeit not exceptional nor particularly original, is subtle enough to manipulate the viewer’s mood but not overbearing to the point that it becomes distracting.
Since most horror fans might want to know if the movie is ‘scary’, let’s talk about that: there are quite a few scenes that had me somewhat tense and anxious – which only a few times relied on jump-scares – but, besides that, the movie is too predictable and conventional to have any impact on people who’re well-versed in the genre. I do believe that most viewers who like mainstream, cookie-cutter horror flicks will enjoy this one nonetheless.
To wrap it up, The Hole in the Ground is, story-wise, nothing more than your average PG-13 supernatural horror movie; on the other hand, its execution is far better than most of these flicks (which are generally painfully embarrassing and uninteresting). There are many aspects worth praising in terms of presentation, which will probably make the viewing experience of the average horror fan rather enjoyable and entertaining.
Still, the fact that this film tries to imply a deeper meaning by showing a few “mirror-images” towards the end, is rather insulting and manipulative, in my opinion.
Overall, The Hole in the Ground is a decent and above par horror flick that, however, doesn’t deserve neither the praise it got at Sundance nor the insane anticipation of the horror community.
The Hole in the Ground 6.5/10
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