Star Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
A popular sub-genre of horror movies is the so called “dark fairy tale.” These are stories that take mythical creatures and imagine them as something more vicious than what we remember from our childhood or they twist the story of Little Red Riding Hood into some modern-day murder fest. Some of these films are successful in their execution, like Pan’s Labyrinth, while others are significantly less successful. With an amazing cast, its a shame that The Hallow falls into the latter of the two camps.
The Hallow stars Joseph Mawle and Bojana Novakovic as Adam and Clare, a husband and wife who move to the Irish Country to do something with trees. The film never fully discloses what Adam does with the trees, but it heavily, and sloppily, emphasizes his obsession with fungus. All the audience knows is that Adam’s tree work makes the people in the area very angry. One character Colm Donnelly (played by Michael McElhatton) continues to confront Adam about his work, warning him that something in the forest is unhappy with him. After Adam brings home some fungus he finds while hiking in the forest, the couple find themselves attacked by strange creatures who live in the forest.
From a horror perspective, this film is never scary. Its as if the director had all the tools to make it scary at his disposal but chose to ignore them. All of the monster movie cliches are present. At first the couple doesn’t believe the creatures exist. Then even after the first creature sighting and Adam gets attacked, they still continue to believe that it’s their neighbor, Colm, attacking them and trying to convince them to leave. The irony of course being, since its a film, we know the creatures are real even if we don’t see them. But in most films, this works to the directors advantage since most films will help to establish the monster or creature before the creature is ever revealed. Instead The Hallow chooses to reveal the creatures abilities whenever it is necessary to advance the story or give the scene more suspense. At one point it is revealed the creatures can move through a wood beam, which is rather convenient given the circumstances in the scene.
The film can’t seem to decide if it wants to be a dark fairy tale or a horror movie. There are moments with the fairy tale aspect is very prevalent. The myths about the creatures, the old book the couple receives, the beginning title card, and even the final shot of the movie all add to the mythos of the fairy tale this movie is telling. But apart from those four things, everything else is presented as a horror movie. There are plenty of jump scares, and lots of vicious attacks from the creatures, and the usual disbelief from the couple, which all add to the horror aspect of the movie. unfortunately, neither of the two truly blend into one cohesive story.
One of the few positives to the film is the cast. Its good to see Joseph Mawle and Michael McElhatton in something other than Game of Thrones, by adding Bojana Novakovic to the mix really fills out the emotional weight of the film. Novakovic is entirely convincing as a mother trying to protect her baby. Mawle’s character does lack the same emotional depth he had as Benjen Stark in Game of Thrones, but that lends itself to the story of The Hallow.
If you’re someone who likes monster movies, or fairy tales, or saving the environment, this might be the movie for you. Just don’t go into it expecting anything great. If you need something to turn on as background noise while you type a paper or cook a meal, this movie might also be for you. There’s nothing significant about the story and its highly unoriginal.