Review by James Lindorf
The latest entry into the world of Irish horror is The Hole in The Ground, directed by Lee Cronin. He also co-wrote with the help of Writer Stephen Shields. Sarah (Seána Kerslake) and her young son Chris (James Quinn Markey) move to a new home in the countryside that needs a lot of TLC. The house backs up to a forest that conceals an enormous sinkhole. One night, Chris vanishes, and when he reappears, he seems unharmed and unchanged. Before long Sarah starts to notice little changes. Is Chris just having a hard time adjusting to his new surroundings or is it a sign of something much worse? As his behavior becomes increasingly disturbing, Sarah begins to fear that the boy who returned may not be her son at all. Independent production company A24 and DirecTV purchased the North American distribution rights to The Hole in The Ground which made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.
Comparisons to The Omen, Children of the Corn and Village of the Damned will be inescapable, but while you are watching the film, the performances of Seána and James will be enough to keep you focused on them alone. Seána is easily the stand out of the film. She starts off portraying a battered woman turned single mother looking to make a change, which is a tough role on its own. When you add in horror and the psychological elements of figuring out what’s wrong with her son, the role becomes quite demanding. James does well in some scenes, but struggles in others, not unlike many young actors. He may not be on the level of Haley Joel, but he is better the average child actor.
The Hole in The Ground is a strong debut feature for Cronin, but despite the excellent performances and being beautifully shot, the film is a bit too conventional and lacks strength in other key areas to be a standout overall. The story feels a bit rushed and is underwhelming, while some of the CGI lends itself more towards comedy than horror. It is more in line with a thriller than what people picture when they think of a horror movie. However, it could be a great entry point into the genre for those that are easily scared. If expectations are correctly set, it is a movie that can be enjoyed. However, if you are expecting the next horror classic, you will be disappointed when the credits roll.