The Hole in the Ground follows a mother who moves to the Irish countryside to escape her abusive husband. After stumbling upon a massive pit in the woods, her son begins to behave strangely. Is she losing her mind or is her son not what he appears to be?
The Hole in the Ground Review
Irish horror films have been generally well-accepted by Efrit and I. One of the best in recent memory is The Hallow, which remains one of my favorite horror movies of all time, with its great pacing, acting, story, and themes. The Hole in the Ground follows the same changeling folklore that The Hallow does, but with a subdued approach akin to The Babadook. While this makes the premise a bit predictable, particularly if you are aware of the mythos and The Hallow, the film is very well made and lacks the generic, monotone approach of films of a similar ilk.
The directing allows the young actor playing the son to thrive in his limited acting chops. He does a very good job and instills an unsettling nature that I haven't felt towards a horror film child in years. The mom's progression from solemn acceptance of her situation with her son's father, to feeling estranged from her son, to bearing a sense of dread over his state is very well executed. The symbolism of domestic abuse's effect on households is prevalent and impactful, and a meaningful commentary to today's world that The Hallow doesn't tackle.
Despite a near-flawless piece of storytelling, there was one scene in particular towards the 3/5 mark of the film that came out like a poorly executed SNL skit. It feels disjointed from the gradual progression of the film, it allows the mother to make a cliche declaration of her fears to a virtual acquaintance, then has her run away in a panic in a very awkward and inexplainable moment. In the next scene, the mom is shown at home with her son as he asks her why she ran away from him earlier. It makes for a very disconnected failure in the film's otherwise methodical perfection.
Back when I was alive and getting my driver's license like everyone else, the instructor docked me for a single error during my final driving exam. The otherwise perfect exam left me with almost a perfect 100, minus that single error. After the exam, he couldn't drop that single error, "You were so close to 100," he said, "Why couldn't you have just gotten that perfect score?" All this time I couldn't understand why he couldn't let it go...but now, with this movie, I get it. When almost everything is perfect, the mistakes stick out like a sore thumb even worse than if the movie had been a failure. That is what that scene does to me.
Yet, I can let it go. The movie is worth a watch and a small amount of patience letting things develop at its pace. The story is good, with interesting characters that you care about, and the finale makes everything worth it. I don't think I need another changeling movie for a while, with two films relatively back-to-back doing it so well.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 8/10
Horror Quality: 7/10
Film Quality: 7/10 (close to a 9 if not for that terrible scene and transition)