The Hole in the Ground
Off the top of your head, what Irish horrors can you recall? Any at all? The industry is not renowned for its jump scaring, blood curdling slashers despite past efforts, yet, admirably, directors are not deterred by such reviews and statistics. Lee Cronin is one such filmmaker embracing this challenge with his latest film The Hole in the Ground, welcomed into UK cinemas this March following an appearance at Sundance Film Festival in January. With its relatively ambiguous title, one would be ill advised to make too many early assumptions other than that, without doubt, a twisted and fear-inducing paranormal rollercoaster is but moments away as the opening credits roll.
Living as a single mother following a troubled and violent past relationship, Sarah (Seána Kerslake) and her son Chris (James Quinn Markey) relocate to a remote area of Ireland in search of a new life. One evening Chris runs into the woods, vanishing without a trace. In pursuit of her son, Sarah comes across a gaping canyon-like sinkhole, swallowing up the quagmire around her deep into the abyss below. She is relieved to soon discover that her child did not fall into the hole as she first thought, and the pair return home. However, Chris’s behaviour begins to change beyond his mother’s recognition, as he shows disturbing personality traits and a lack of memory of personal games that made their bond so special. Unable to confidently confide in her neighbours, Sarah is thrown into a swamp of psychological insecurity and immense fear as she attempts to piece together the true story of what really happened to her son that night in the forest.
With the exceptionally satisfying run time of just 90 minutes, The Hole in the Ground wastes no time in beginning to develop and unravel a plot of mystery and terrifying fantasy. Hands will start to grip chairs tighter and tighter as an expertly crafted onscreen relationship between Kerslake and Markey begins tumbling down in front of them thanks to frighteningly brilliant performances from the duo and the supporting cast. A relative newcomer to the feature film scene, Kerslake shows great promise, portraying a mature heroine role with ease and credibility, but it is the chilling performance of her onscreen son that jangles onlookers’ nerves to the core, proving that he is certainly one to watch for the future.
The narrative is perhaps lacking some essential thickness and flesh, with character motives and plot twists proving frustratingly predictable from the outset. The lack of a twist leaves a hole quite a bit bigger than that titular void featuring in the film itself, and the result is somewhat disappointing. Things are also not helped by a stereotypical horror soundtrack, which other franchise movies have exhausted to death over recent years. Stephen Mckeon’s score is good but it does fall back on the cliché screeches and jump scare accompaniments that grow tiresome swiftly and merely cover up the cracks in the plot. In short, the film is a valiant effort from Cronin and team, and with a little tweaking and further plot development The Hole in the Ground could have been a hard hitter, but instead attention is shifted towards his remarkably talented actors, who rather save the day.
The Hole in the Ground is released in select cinemas on 1st March 2019.
Watch the trailer for The Hole in the Ground here: