The Hole in the Ground (2019) – Lee Cronin

The Irish horror film, The Hole in the Ground, was circling on my radar for awhile, so I was curious to see what I thought of it when I finally had a chance to see it. I can see why some people like it, and others didn’t care for it. The film works best when it’s ambigious, but as soon as it had to commit one way or the other to what was actually going on, I’m sure it lost a number of potential fans.

I enjoyed it, though wish they had been able to maintain an ambiguity all the way through, but that’s neither here nor there. The performances are exceptional, Seana Kerslake plays single mother, Sarah, who has some emotional, and potentially mental issues because of an off-screen incident before the film starts. Playing her son, Chris, is James Quinn Markey, and he has a surprising amount of menace, channelling the darkness at the centre of the film.

Sarah and Chris have moved to a quiet village to get away from her ruined past, and their new home borders a forest that boasts a troubling sinkhole. The hole itself, with it’s constant trickle of dirt gives it a strange organic feeling, of something breathing.

When Chris disappears one night, Sarah hunts the forest for him, and finds him near the hole and brings him home. But Chris seems different; polite, quiet, and, very creepy.

Is there something truly wrong with Chris? Is he something else? Or has her life crumbled so far, has her medication, and her injury caused her so much pain that she is hallucinating and imagining problems?

This is the line that should have been walked through the entire film, letting everything build and then leave the viewer wondering, and cite evidence for both possibilities. Instead, because of the genre, a choice is made, and we see what is really happening, and the lengths Sarah will go to save her boy, and herself.

I like the way the film is shot, and the number of references to The Shining, and there’s a great mood to the piece, and both lead performances are wonderfully on point, supported by James Cosmo and Katie Outinen. I like how it plays with the myth of the changeling, the dealing with emotional trauma, and the fears every parent must have when raising their children.

A delightfully little moody piece that, like I said, should have left its story a little more cloudy and ambiguous, but well-done nonetheless, and makes excellent use of its budget to convey a moody character piece instead of a number of pointless jump scares.

Assuredly not the best film for parents of newborns, or young kids…

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