Up-and-comer Corin Hardy makes his feature film debut with an intense, practical effects driven creature feature called The Hallow. It’s an ambitious monster movie that wastes no time getting to the good stuff, as it creates early tension before unleashing an army of evil woodland creatures. In the film, a family who moves into a remote milll house in Ireland find themselves in a fight for survival with demonic creatures living in the woods.
It’s a simple, often creepy little film that pushes its story aside for more gooey, bloody matters. And while the film moves at a break-neck pace—there’s virtually no settling into this one before shit hits the fan—it sacrifices some important story elements in the process. It’s a slightly frustrating hiccup, too, because what Hardy has crafted in The Hallow is truly special, delivering some wicked creatures that will no doubt rattle your bones. But again, the film moves at such a frenzied pace that at times it’s hard to keep up with what’s going on in Hardy’s creature-filled world; its dizzying speed only allows the film to quickly brush over some key pieces to the story’s puzzle, keeping us away from really connecting with any of its characters.
That’s as far as the negatives go for this one, though, because The Hallow really does have a lot to offer the genre. It’s a fantastic showcase for new school horror with an old school heart, masterfully blending digital effects with practical ones, creating a truly haunting experience that comes to life through some of the meanest looking monsters we’ll likely see this year. And this is where the film really comes to life, too, because what good is a creature feature without creatures? Hardy wastes no time in getting his nasty creations front and center, surrounding his characters in a shitstorm of monsters rather quickly. It’s an easy thing to appreciate, a movie that’s much more interested in tearing shit up than anything else.
But within all of that madness, Hardy shows phenomenal technique behind the camera, often stopping to let a scene go to work in wonderful ways. He’s smart about not showing us too much, only revealing what we really need to see. There’s a moment in the movie where one of the characters is trapped in the attic with a monster trying to force its way in. It’s not only the best scene in the entire film, but one of the coolest few minutes the genre has produced in a very long time. A scene like this is proof that you can create nerve-shredding intensity with a less is more approach, and it’s one of the many reason to be excited about Hardy’s future behind the camera.
All in all, The Hallow is an impressive debut from a director with a bright future. It’s the kind of monster movie that’s all about the monsters, letting them go to work quickly and early. And despite the story taking a back seat, the film offers more than enough to make up for it in the form of some gnarly creatures of the night.
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