A film that tries to speak up but discovers it has no voice of its own.
On the surface, The Hallow seemed like it would offer me something I always look for in horror - a unique experience. It has made a villain out of Irish folklore creatures, like Fairies and Banshees, which is not exactly a common subgenre. The film follows a man who looks for diseases on trees. He relocates to a small Irish village with his wife and baby in order to track a fungus growing in the surrounding forest. As soon as he does, his neighbor starts pestering him about staying out of the forest, because if you trespass on Fairy territory, they will come inside your house and steal your baby.
This movie attempts to give us a spin on monster movies by trying to weave science and fairytale together. Unfortunately, not enough attention was paid to how these two things are supposed to intertwine, and the result simply does not work - the science aspect of the film makes zero sense in the context of the fairytale one, and vice versa. So, instead of sticking to one of these two approaches, and developing it to a point where it works well, they half-assed both and we get nonsense that simply does not fit together into one whole. Not to mention that one of these two conflicting sides was lifted straight out of another UK horror film which is less than 10 years old, which executed it a million times better to boot.
I could have forgiven the ill-fitting (and, to be honest, way too basic) plot if the individual scenes took good advantage of the world the movie was trying to create. This leads me to the "mortal wound" of the film, the one that renders it creatively mute - its individual scenes. While the movie is not about a haunting, it follows every single "family moves into isolated haunted house" trope and then some. It was almost overwhelming. Seemingly crazy neighbor trying to warn family? Check. Exploring damp and dirty attic? Check. Baby monitor making weird noises? Check. Dog whimpering while chained outside? Check. Item dropped in the car by a driver who then crashes while looking for it on the floor instead of stopping the car or just waiting til they get home? Check. Creatures afraid of light, so you have to go outside and restart the generator cause there's no electricity? Check. Little blonde girl who looks like a zombie? Check. Every ounce of the movie was "horror 101", think Haunting in Connecticut or Amityville Remake or any other generic horror.
Even minor details which could have coloured an otherwise gray outing were foregone. The movie sets up fun "lore" as to what hurts the forest creatures and then just abandons it completely. So their skin burn if they touch iron metal? Well then this renders the ENTIRE last act of the film pointless, as the "conundrum" that the characters find themselves in would have been instantly solvable. But for the sake of having a third act at all, they just pretend that the characters forget what they learn instantly and never utilize the knowledge. Not a smart script here. The beginning also made me hopeful for the approach to the villainous creatures - they were never shown, with only shadows and silhouettes and body parts popping up here and there. This was successful in keeping them mysterious and should have been propagated to the second half. Instead, like some other recent horrors (Mama for example), the secretive tension is fully abandoned and by the end we get low- budget cartoonish CGI creatures in full glorious view every few seconds. Tension is simply incompatible with poorly animated fairies. The human characters were empty shells as well. The father shows personality exactly once in the very beginning and then abandons it. The mother displays none, and just does what the husband asks of her subserviently most of the time.
Overall, The Hallow is hollow of entertainment and creativity. I appreciate the initial idea of what the writer and director were trying to do, but the final product is a regression for the horror genre and is near the bottom as far as 2015 horror.
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