“The Hallow” (2015) Directed by Corin Hardy. Starring Bojana Novakovic and Joseph Mawle. A forester and his family move to a remote countryside house in Ireland. Soon he discovers that the locals are hostile. But the mean farmer that lives next door is the least of his worries, as the forest he works in is infested with child stealing fairies.
Everything in director Corin Hardy’s monster movie “The Hallow” is wet. The damp forest terrain, the black ooze that rots through the foundation of houses, the glistening beasts themselves. Taking the ancient mythology of Irish fairies and their potent magic, Hardy gives it a dark and grittier twist in this creature feature filled with terror and horrible wonder.
Conservationist Adam moves his wife Claire and their infant son Finn to the edge of a mysterious forest with a bleak past. There, he studies the land and makes maps of the areas he’s explored, marking trees that should not be cut down by an encroaching lumber company intent on logging the area. Meanwhile, Claire begins renovating their cottage by removing the iron bars conspicuously nailed over every window.
The family is paid the occasional and unwelcome visits by Colm, a bitter local man who lost his young daughter the year before. He warns them, in true Crazy Old Guy In A Horror Movie fashion, to clear out before it’s too late. With his rifle and distrust of city folk, he comes off to Claire as too menacing to be trusted.
They think Colm is the threat in the area, but they’re wrong. So very, very wrong.
Colm leaves them with a supernatural tome which explains that trespassing in an enchanted wood doesn’t end well.
After Adam discovers the corpse of a deer in the woods coated in black slime, he takes a sample back to the lab he has set up in their home.
This turns out to be a terrible idea. The ooze demonstrates the ability to overtake foreign cells and convert them into copies of itself, which blows Adam’s mind. He’s just discovered a new species, although what he’s turned up is actually quite old. The family dog begins to fall horrifically ill after an apparent insect bite. Something is breaking in through the second story window, Baby Finn is nearly kidnapped and the black ooze begins to stain the ceiling.
Adam and Claire can only blame Colm for the mysterious events for so long.
The local cops inform the couple about The Hallow, forest dwelling fairies who are known for two traits: stealing babies and disliking trespassers in their wood. Adam decides to pay Colm a visit with Finn in the car to apologize and learn more, and the pair are viciously attacked by something that came out of the trees. Adam winds up in the trunk while Finn cries and an inhuman being screeches. It’s a terrifying sequence.
Claire joins them and the three find themselves surrounded as exotic and unfriendly monsters start popping up left and right.
40 minutes into the film, shadowy suggestion and creepy stalking are replaced by all out war between the woodland faeries and terrified humans as the creatures-a unique mix of practical effects and CGI-step into the spotlight. They make quite an impression.
Corin Hardy, who was friends with special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen, chose fairies and Irish folklore as his antagonists and theme because he felt that vampires and werewolves were too overexposed as cinematic monsters.
The appeal of the film is its fresh concept and old school execution. I can’t think of a single fully CGI monster, other than Jar Jar Binks, that has elicited any fear from me. But show me John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” with its scampering spider heads and dog absorbing monstrosities, and I’m hiding behind the couch.
Having a real, tangible creature puppet or actor in makeup on set leads to a more frightening film. Computerized effects were used to embellish the otherworldly appearance of the creature suits and makeup. You know, the way it should be done?
Hopefully the baby was CGI, too, because it gets put through more physical stress than the adult characters. That is one durable infant!
As the fairies invade the cottage, Adam gets stung by one and the film enters one of my favorite subgenres: Body Horror! Not only does this lead to some fantastic makeup work, it also adds an element of paranoia to the mix.
How far can Claire trust her husband to help protect their child? What team is he playing for?
When Finn is kidnapped by the fairy horde, Claire must embrace her inner Ripley to face the them on their own turf while her husband descends into the underground stronghold of the monsters, where he discovers a strange society hidden from the world of man, also, some seriously freaky looking critters.
Honestly, I don’t know why you aren’t already watching this. I waited a long time for THE HALLOW to see release in the US beyond film festivals, and nothing is better than being pleased with a film you’ve anticipated for a while.
You’re watching it now, right?