Saturday, 17 October 2015

THE HALLOW - Review By Greg Klymkiw - In Ireland, there are animals in the woods. Terrifying, visceral first feature at Toronto After Dark Film Festival (TADFF 2015): ***½

The Hallow (2015)
Dir. Corin Hardy
Scr. Hardy and Felipe Marino
Starring: Joseph Mawle, Bojana Novakovic, Michael McElhatton, Michael Smiley

Review By Greg Klymkiw

So you move into an old stone cottage in the middle of Inbredville, Ireland because your hubby (Joseph Mawle) has been hired by rich scumbag developers to survey a deep, gorgeous old forest for nefariously commercial purposes.

It should be plenty quaint. Hubby gets to tromp about the woods with his trusty dog and your cute baby stuffed into one of those handy Mountain Co-Op hiking carriers. You, the loyal wifey (Bojana Novakovic) will have plenty of time to putter about the sweetly idiosyncratic old house and gardens. One of the first orders of business is to remove all the unsightly steel bars which are mounted on every single window. This bit of home improvement is all well and good, but did you not think - if only for a second - why these bars have been affixed there in the first place?

Honey, there's always a good reason for steel bars on the windows.

To keep someone or something in? Or, maybe, just maybe, the bars are meant to keep something out - something lurking in the deep woods. In fact, a gun-toting local inbred (Michael McElhatton) repeatedly demands that hubby stop trespassing in the ancient heritage forest and furthermore suggests that you all should just plain LEAVE. GO. BUGGER OFF! NOW! RIGHT FUCKING NOW!

This then is The Hallow, a film of mounting, creepy chills until it blasts into the stratosphere of utter, relentless terror. Frankly, there's absolutely no need to describe what is in those woods, but suffice to say it's shit-your-drawers ghastly and as an added bonus, rooted in not the most pleasant Irish folklore - no Darby O'Gill and the Little People here, folks. No fucking Gnome Mobile in sight. Just icky, sticky, oozing... uh, let's just say, things.

Though much of the screenplay is by the book structurally, it's rife with realistic dialogue (uttered with conviction by a first-rate cast) and plenty of local colour to keep one tantalized. The special effects are mostly of the non-digital variety and as such are a whopping jarful of maraschino cherries floating in viscous fluids and deposited in healthy dollops upon this most foul ice cream sundae of a movie.

Director Hardy demonstrates considerable skill and aplomb with this, his first feature film as a director. Though the picture's elements are familiar enough, his mise-en-scene is always several country miles ahead of most genre directors with its solid compositions, plenty of variation in performance and skillful coverage to allow for elegant cutting. The man has skill, but he also has a lot of style and he displays the strong early beginnings of a distinctive filmmaking voice.

The Hallow is that lovely pot at the end of the Irish rainbow, a pot overflowing with blood and plenty of gelatinous chunks of viscera.

One cannot argue with this.

The Film Corner Rating: ***½ 3-and-a Stars

The Hallow plays at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival (TADFF 2015)