Netflix horror The Hole in the Ground, released in March of this year, is being praised by viewers as being “the pinnacle” of Irish horror, and possibly even “one of the scariest horror films of 2019”. Rated 8.5 on RottenTomatoes, and a less impressive 5.7 on IMDb, the movie sure has caused a stir this year.
The movie, written by Lee Cronin and Stephen Shields, and directed by Cronin, tells the chilling tale of a young boy who develops very creepy behavior after going missing near a sinkhole in the forest near his home (because what’s scarier than a possessed child?)- his young mother, Sarah, begins to suspect there is something seriously amiss.
Irish Folklore Meets Psycho-Thriller
DigitalSpy has called it “one of the year’s stand-out horrors”. Complete with obligatory eerie music, subdued mood lighting, and a remote, rural setting, The Hole in the Ground has received very positive reviews from those who get their kicks from scaring themselves senseless.
In the world of horror, where originality is arguably harder to achieve, the Irish horror flick includes shocking themes such as infanticide, in addition to Cronin taking inspiration from Irish folklore. He told DigitalSpy “I take a little bit from changeling mythology and some other Irish myths about certain territories and areas of lands that shouldn’t be stepped on.”
Of course, the textbook characteristics of your run-of-the-mill horror are ever-present- which horror doesn’t have a scary mirror scene and unnerving use of photography?
But, There’s More…
Cronin even has Sarah doing unthinkable things to her son in an attempt to eradicate his newfound evil personality. She (understandably) accrues substantial paranoia regarding her son’s increasingly bizarre and hair-raising behavior, which merges into a happily psychotic marriage between the psychological thriller and horror genres.
Despite its low budget, the movie has been well-received by critics. It has minimal characters, with the bulk of the screen time being given to Sarah and her son Chris, both played excellently by Seana O’Neill and James Quinn Markey.
MyFavouriteHorror has compared The Hole in the Ground to movies like Under The Shadow, Goodnight Mommy and The Babadook stating that fans of those will certainly appreciate it. The movie is intentionally ambiguous (according to an interview with Cronin in NME) and leaves much open to the interpretation of the viewer. Much of the movie leaves you wondering what is real, or if this is all just a terrifyingly elaborate delusion.
AND Of Course, There’s A Twist At The End!
What self-respecting horror movie would be complete without a twist at the end? It’s pretty much required by law! It has been called by the Independent as “a psychological horror film that leaves you wanting to come up for air” despite the “slow-pace” the movie “grabs [your] attention til the end”- in the review by MyFavouriteHorror. The review also praises Markey’s performance as Chris, who nails the “mysterious evil kid” role.
Although… Not everyone is quite so enamored
Roger Ebert has criticized the movie, debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January. He calls the title misleading and states that it’s a “story that errs toward the familiar instead of embracing strangeness, its freaky kid becoming the distraction when you just want more time with the hole in the ground.” The fairly scathing review states that “it becomes frustrating to see Cronin populate his genre film with more and more familiar elements” and there is too much blatant use of “jump-scare elements”.
Well, you can’t please everyone! Turn off your lights, grab some popcorn, recruit a friend and get comfy (ideally with a pillow at hand for the scary bits) and make your judgment. If you dare, that is.
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