3.5 out of 10

Release Date: 13th November 2015

Director: Corin Hardy

Cast: Joseph Mawle, Bojana Novakovic, Michael McElhatton, Gary Lydon and Michael Smiley

Writer: Corin Hardy & Felipe Marino



This is one of those horror films that has been made by a director who’s most interested in his toy boy than telling a story and generating any fear. Whether its been at the high or low budget end of the filmmaking scale, the horror genre seems to be the place to start. The genres full of them. In The Hallow, the director has left the plot to run by itself to a clockwork tempo whilst he works on his creature effects.

A scientist  (JOSEPH MAWLE – PROTOTYPE) gets sent to remote part of Ireland were dark magic still exists. His detail is to assess and the raze an ancient forest. He discovers a fungus that takes over the human brain turning them into trees. The locals warn the scientist off yet his, his young wife and baby stay in the big scary house in the woods anyway. Meanwhile, creatures in the woods (baby stealers) begin to attack the house night after night. What do they want? Well that should be obvious but none of it is sold convincingly.

The storytelling is repetitive and the main actors don’t seem that interested in bringing the story to life. So are the effects any good? They are Hollywood class although the wooden villains look to cute to be deadly child killing wood fairies. Michael Smiley (OUTPOST) turns up for a sole scene as a worldly police man and he brings a bit of context to the panic.  What could have been interesting, exciting and a horror to remember ultimately plays it too safe, just like another Brit-horror with a budget, Blackwood. Expect to see the director do another creature feature. Whether he’ll get to write and direct again is another thing as it doesn’t seem like he’s interested enough to transport his audiences into his world unless he can pour a thick dollop of CGi on it.

3.5 out of 10 – Well made, standard, safe horror that springs no surprises.






One thought on “THE HALLOW

  1. Review by Matt Usher

    Sometimes you know. You press ‘play movie’ and it begins with a long sequence of studio idents and funders’ logos, and somewhere in the back of your mind you just instinctively know that when the film itself eventually starts it will open with a black background against which will scroll some ancient wisdom, or a prophecy or poem or pretentious drivel about life, death, art, the uncanny or monkeys. And so it was with THE HALLOW. It was inevitable.

    So THE HALLOW states from the start that it’s a traditional, pretty straightforward film, which does nevertheless have a few little twists which make it slightly more interesting than it might have been. It’s an Irish film, but doesn’t have the bonkers approach that can work for some other recent Emerald Isle horrors (STITCHES, GRABBERS, BOTCHED, A CHRISTMAS WISH – maybe not that last one).

    Joseph Mawle plays a tree surgeon (no doubt a maverick tree surgeon who doesn’t play by the rules, and has personal demons to deal with) who is summoned to chop down a forest. He, his wife, their son/daughter (a baby – I don’t remember what sort), and dog (it dies), move into the old abandoned haunted creepy empty mysterious farmhouse of doom and start doing things you should never do in horror films, like tidy up. The wood spirits are restless, but Mawle is a man wedded to his chopper, and nothing in the world is going to stop him pulling down those trees. The locals aren’t happy, and the supernatural denizens of the forest are furious. Mawle doesn’t help himself: he has a terrible health and safety record, can’t control his dog or look after the baby and refuses to keep appointments with scary gun-waving yokels, instead spending more time studying that psychotic fungi which takes over ants. One day he’s out and about and just happens to finds some sticky stuff which reminds him of the psychotic fungus. The reason is that it is that sticky fungus which takes over ants, except it’s a sticky fungus which takes over humans. As if that isn’t bad enough, the local goblins decide it’d be a good idea to steal the baby.

    At this point it’s fairly straightforward and you know where it’s going. The wife will go hysterical, the husband will be annoyed at her blithering on about imaginary hobgoblins and won’t believe a word she says until it’s too late.


    There’s none of that ‘it’s all in your head’ ‘I know what I saw – I’m not crazy’ ‘I know you saw what you think you saw but there’s no such thing as wood-hobgoblins’ malarkey. No, the moment the supernatural aggression commences our heroes are straight in with ‘you saw that?’ ‘Yeah’. Which is a pretty rare and welcome development in this sort of film. Then another remarkable thing happens. They size up the situation and decide that the best action is to get out of town. I know! They don’t decide to tough it out, or hope things will get better, or persuade themselves that it’s all a bout of passing paranoia, they don’t go for help to the people who hate their guts and are probably in on it, they just do the sensible non-movie thing that you would do if you were under siege from fiendish killer childnapping leprechauns. Unfortunately their car breaks down almost immediately because fungus ate the engine, but they tried to do the right thing, and I like the film for letting them do that.

    After that it’s all chases, body-swaps, people being taken over by dreadful killer diseases, cars not starting, worried locals getting more worried, the dog going missing, the baby going missing, the forest being scary, people locking themselves into cupboards and turning into monsters as per usual.

    THE HALLOW is, at best, a flawed, fairly standard horror with a lot of subsidiary compensations: the baby is excellent, the closing scenes are beautifully lit and there’s a good final shot; our heroes make the decision that heroes never make in this sort of film (but always should), and throughout the film feels like it thinks it’s being very original. Except of course it isn’t. And that’s why the compensations come in very handy. For the most part it’s the standard run of clichés, there are few characters, all of them stupid or unhelpful for no obvious reason, and there are no real scares, though there is an underlying queasiness which helps. Joseph Mawle must be one of the least charismatic leading men I’ve seen in ages (good actor though), and Bojana Novakovic has little to do other than suffer prettily.

    But then there’s the small matter of the fearsome beasties who have caused all the trouble. They’re animatronic and are, by and large, used sparingly. They’re generally suitably lit (i.e. kept in the dark). But. The film is at its best when it’s staying dark and mysterious. But then suddenly there are Gollum puppets all over the place, which just about works when they’re fleetingly glimpsed in the dark. But once they’re revealed, and running about in full view, it jars more than a little bit. They’re perfectly acceptable monsters, it’s just the film worked nicely without them, and is at its best when dealing with the unseen and the hinted-at. The creatures move it into a different sub-genre, where cheap-looking monsters merrily maraud whilst substandard actors try to affect any emotion other than the one they’re experiencing (immense bemusement). It’s all the more baffling because, although the least successful part of the film, the dedication to Ray Harryhausen et al at the end suggests the film exists to showcase them.

    THE HALLOW has some nice subversions and tells its story cleanly. There’s some menace and murk (though not enough), but, most disappointingly, doesn’t try to turn things on their head as much as it might have done. It’s a bit timid, falling back on stereotypes and tropes when it should have been bolder and more innovative.

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