The Hallow is a low budget horror film that has managed to garner 70% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. How a movie like The Hallow (originally titled The Woods and later, The Good People) managed to get a higher rating than SPECTRE, the latest James Bond film is beyond me. I guess it is a matter of perspective and what you are looking for from any given film. Nevertheless, The Hallow tells the story of a family who moves to a rundown home in the middle of Ireland and they find themselves in a battle with demonic creatures hiding in the forest. IMDB (Internet Movie Database) refers to the creatures as demonic, and they are indeed, but the film calls them Pixies and Banshees (and no, I am not referring to any pop bands).
The film stars Joseph Mawle as Adam, his lovely wife is named Clare (Bojana Novakovic) and they have one infant son named Finn. The house the have moved into is a dump. Why people move into dumps in these films is a question I have never understood. I understand the story requires it, but, who do these people have as their real estate agents? Adam is some kind of a botanist out scraping molds, spores and fungi with his baby son strapped to his back. In the opening scene, he finds a dead deer and scrapes off some kind of goop and takes it home with him. Ya know, to study……in his house………with his family around.
Adam and Clare also seem to have an ongoing feud with some of the locals led by Colm Donnelly (Michael McElhatton). At first, I thought Colm was their landlord, coming to collect back rent, but the film never really gets into his character. He is merely a prop that is left to dangle in the wind of this thin plot. He only shows up to warn the couple of the dangers that lurk in the forest Adam is studying. Colm even gives them a book detailing what creatures live in the forest. Later, it is revealed that Colm lost his only baby girl in the forest many years ago and he has never been able to get past it.
The Hallow is pretty routine material, for the most part. There is not much that you won’t see coming and the final act is pretty standard fare as well. Despite some nice touches here and there, a fine performance by Bojana Novakovic and a somber and beautiful score by James Gosling, The Hallow is a by-the-numbers horror film that never really gets past the setup in the first act of the film. It is set up nicely, but then deteriorates into just B-grade schlock. The creatures are shown way too much and nothing is left to the imagination. The script requires that people do dumb things like go outside in the middle of the night by themselves, bring toxic material into their home and to not just get in the car and go when things start to happen. When they do try to run, it is too late.
Directed and co-written by Corin Hardy with Felipe Marino, The Hallow offers nothing into these characters that would give us a reason to care what happens to any of them. They also have the baby screaming and wailing through most of the film. Why would anyone let their baby be subjected to this kind of nonsense for a film? You know they would have to actually try to make the baby cry for each of the scenes in this 90 minute film, just to get the shots for each scene completed. I don’t know who would let their baby be put through that, for real, just for a movie. Joesph Mawle is serviceable as Adam but he never convinced me he was a scientist. His character comes across as more of a lumbering oaf than anything. But, Bojana Novakovic is really effective as a mother trying to protect her child. I believed her fear and felt her anguish at the film’s conclusion.
The problem with The Hallow is that it is derivative of better films. I saw some of The Shining, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the dog birth scene in Alien 3, a dash of John Carpenter’s The Thing with a pinch of Straw Dogs. All better films than The Hallow. Yes, even Alien 3, the extended cut is a better film than The Hallow. I did respect Corin Hardy’s decision to rely more on practical special effects inside of throwing a bunch of CGI nonsense on the screen, but the story is so dull and uninspired that I could not have cared less about the outcome of the film or its characters. The Hallow is hollow, indeed.
The Hallow- ** out of five
The Hallow- Rated R for violence and language
The Hallow- Run Time is 96 minutes (with credits)
The Hallow is currently in select theaters and available On Demand so check your local listings