The Hallow (Taylor, 2015)
The credits of Corin Taylor’s The Hallow roll over a stylish tracking shot of its forest setting being torn down by developers, slowly drifting through its scene of lorries and chainsaws and felled trees to rest upon the foreboding darkness of the remaining woodland that has been terrorising its characters throughout the prior film. It’s a striking, flawlessly executed scene, indicating a sophisticated eye and sensitivity to its subject matter that was absent from the rest of the film.
The issue with The Hallow doesn’t lie in its ideas, most of which are clever twists on Irish folklore and goblin horror, but in its execution. The young married parents that incur the wrath of the faery people (here referred to as The Hallow) are smartly developed and realistically deal with their circumstances as they slowly realise that they aren’t dealing with crazed locals but supernatural forces, but their aggressors are disappointingly generic, particularly when their diversity and threat is stressed so carefully in the films exposition when a local policeman warns them of banshees and baby-snatchers and a host of other folkloric monsters. Instead, what we’re given are bland, vaguely wooden demon creatures – spooky when in the shadows but silly when they come closer.
There are some inventive and scary set pieces, particularly early on, and the film’s central threat against the baby has the gravity it needs to commit to such a risky concept. But there is a pervasive visual flatness to the film, never truly exploiting its woodland setting to full effect. There is a good film somewhere in here, and a promising director, but in the end The Hallow is a disappointing not-quite.