Saturday, March 9, 2019

Movie Reviews: The Hole in the Ground

The Hole in the Ground
directed by Lee Cronin
This is an intelligent Irish horror movie. Well maybe it's not as smart as it thinks it is, but it does convey thrills, chills and excitement without gratuitous bloodshed or bared mammary glands which are normally de rigueur for these types of films. It doesn't reach the heights of Hereditary, perhaps because the story has been told so very many times before. And the ending is well, somewhat cliche ridden. But nevertheless I always appreciate films that can tell a story without automatically sinking to the lowest common denominator. 

I suppose you might make an argument that the film, although it has obvious connections to movies such as The Omen, The ShiningOrphanRosemary's Baby, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, is also a metaphor for domestic violence. We are at our most vulnerable behind closed doors with those whom we love and think that we know. But what if you discover that your loved one is not the person you thought they were. That can be a very scary thing, no? Sometimes people find that out too late.  

Some people cross a previously unknown line and trigger a harsh unpleasant response from their spouse. Or you might realize that your spouse or significant other has an entirely different world view, one which is utterly inimical to yours. Your spouse might have been just faking to get something from you. But their true beliefs or behavior patterns frighten you. If you tell other people that your special rider has some issues no one believes you because with everyone else that person is polite, helpful and well behaved. In fact, anticipating just such a response from you, an abuser could have told and convinced all of your friends and family that it's you who have the problem, not him or her.

An abusive spouse can be practiced in making the target of his or her hatred not believe what they are seeing. And when the mask drops, the abused person may be so frightened that they will do whatever they are told to do, just to get a semblance of normalcy again.  Food for thought I guess. 

That metaphor came to mind not only because of the nature of the film's story but also because the movie opens with Sarah (Seana Kerslake) and her son Chris (James Quinn Markey) fleeing an abusive relationship with Sarah's husband. 

IIRC the exact nature of that relationship isn't detailed but it's not important. What is important is that mother and son have a close loving relationship. The boy is still at that age where he is unashamed/unafraid to give hugs and kisses to his Mommy. He's also at an age where he might do well to get a good spanking for some of the things he says. The family moves into a house on the edge of the woods. Cronin does an excellent job of bring the woods to life as something spooky and scary, even during the day time. When Chris has a temper tantrum about not having his Dad around he runs into the woods. Sarah has second thoughts about going in after him and given the lighting and sound that the director employs you wouldn't blame her.  There's a huge sinkhole in the woods, not too far from Sarah's new home.

But soon enough she finds Chris, who allows himself to be taken home. And Chris ventures into the woods again. Chris was never a vivacious person but now he's become sullen and withdrawn. Little things here or there have changed in his personality. 

When the local crazy woman looks at Chris and says "He's not your son", Sarah dismisses her. But over time Sarah starts to have worries about Chris' demeanor and behavior. There are some differences that only a mother would notice. Sarah's forced to wonder if that crazy woman was onto something.  Sarah comes to some startling conclusions.

All told the impressive music was probably a little scarier than what was happening on screen but this was still a worthwhile venture into mostly psychological horror. It made some allusions to Irish legends but wisely explained very little.  At a ninety minute running time this was a little longer than it needed to be. James Cosmo (Lord Commander Mormont from HBO's Game of Thrones) has a small role.
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