A horror movie that can keep the budget down while still looking premium is hugely attractive to distributors, which is why they’ve bet big on selling The Hole In The Ground, from debut co-writer/ director Lee Cronin.
Shot well enough to look like there’s a big budget behind it, Cronin’s tale centres on Sarah (Seána Kerslake), a single mother who wants to escape her broken heart by relocating to a remote village in Ireland where she intends to do up a house, pick up a job and raise her young son, Chris (James Quinn).
Soon after arriving, Sarah has a bizarre encounter or two with a crazy old lady and discovers a giant hole in the forest behind her house. This precipitates a disturbing chain of events that lead her to wonder if her son is indeed her own little boy.
From the very start the violins will pierce eardrums, announcing with no great subtlety that this is a movie embracing cliche. A car driving down a road isn’t creepy. Turn the camera upside down and play some screechy violins, and suddenly you know the score – this is some scary shit.
And so it continues. Trope is piled upon trope as the audience is subjected to screech after screech.
Fortunately the film is rather beautiful. The real scares come when the admirably patient camerawork allows the creepy house and forest to do their thing.
And while the premise is intriguing enough, sadly, the script doesn’t quite match up. The central conceit – is that still her son? – isn’t entirely clear until James Cosmo turns up to deliver some overdue exposition.
The subsequent events are a pastiche of numerous other well-worn horror flicks, from Invasion of the Bodysnatchers to The Omen.
Still, this is an earnest effort from a clearly talented director. It’ll be interesting to see how Cronin fares with a better script, perhaps one he hasn’t co-written.
Cast-wise, Kerslake does a sterling job, employing her gigantic eyes to great effect and putting herself through the ringer to successfully depict a scared, isolated mother who has to pull through to save herself and her son. James Cosmo, meanwhile, does what he does best – looks cuddly while glaring a little bit.
The Hole In The Ground doesn’t reinvent horror, it unashamedly embraces what’s come before, which is does fairly competently. It just looked like it might be a whole lot more interesting than that.