26 July 2018

Watch The Hallow Now Please

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The Hallow is the debut feature from director Corin Hardy and tells the story of a young family; Adam, Claire, and baby Finn, as they move to Ireland and into a house near an ancient forest. I can only presume that the estate agent selling them that creepy fucking place got a bonus that week. I mean the house literally has bars on the outside of the windows to protect anyone that might be living inside. I know tensions can be a little high between the English and Irish but I'd be a bit weary of anywhere in which I needed fucking bars to stay safe. Not that I blame the locals of course. I literally only know English people and I want to hurl things at us all the fucking time too. “Not to worry”, the couple think as they rip down the metal from their windows, “at least we can go for a walk in this terrifying fucking forest”. Whilst out strolling in it, Adam, a conservationist, notices an unusual and slimy substance on several of the trees. Obviously this is suspicious because creepily there doesn't seem to be the usual accompanying beer and cheap porn in the bushes near by. He returns home to inspect his findings and looking under a microscope he finds something even more terrifying than the expected massive solitary jizz with a shamrock in its mouth.

Despite being Hardy's debut, there are so many things to love about The Hallow. Much to their dismay, the forest near the young family's new house is filled with these creepy fucking things that want to steal their baby. Rather than plain old nuns who intend to sell it to a rich American like in the good old days of baby-snatching, it's actually a load of monsters that are trying to smash their way in. Not that I'm entirely sure what kind of monsters they are? They kind of look like the mandrakes in Harry Potter or Pan's Labyrinth but if they grew up and turned into junkies. Or maybe they kind of look like the bastard offspring of Gollum and Margaret Thatchers corpse? Almost as though they've been living in the forest for thousands of years, the creatures have a distinctly wooden quality about them- but not in a Hayden Christensen way. As a vegetarian I actually spent quite a lot of time trying to work out if technically I'd be allowed to eat these Cabbage Patch Pricks? Either way they're creepy as fuck and one of the many original things that the film has to offer. 

The first third of the movie establishes the family in their new home and puts us at unease by making it obvious that they're not welcome. Essentially, every local treats them and the whole area like David and Jack when they walk into The Slaughtered Lamb in An American Werewolf London. We also get Michael Smiley turning up for one scene as Detective Pete Exposition to explain the legend of the creepy tree monsters. If this was Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom then Smiley would essentially be this films' Jeff Goldblum. And as a huge fan of both Spaced and the films of Ben Wheatley in which Smiley stars, I consider it this films biggest failing that he only appears here the once. I know that it'd be insanely cliched if he turned up at the end of the movie to save the day and it's great that the film avoids cliché as often as possible. But at least give me one scene of him at the station as the family telephone for help and he simply starts raving to the sound of the ringing phone. I also really like the couple at the heart of the movie which is pretty helpful when it comes to wanting them to survive. They don't make terrible decisions in which you ultimately want them to die for reacting in such a stupid way and for the most part they seem pretty normal. The worst that you can say about them is that maybe they're swingers but only because they drive a car so terrible that you'd only own it to have identifiable keys for the bowl. 

The second third of the movie is when the creatures begin their attack by throwing what seem to be stones through the home's windows from the shadows. Obliviously, the couple don't instantly assume a smashed window is the result of a monster wanting to steal their baby and so naturally blame the local people. Although it's not unusual to see a stone thrown in Ireland, it is a bit of a chin stroker when it isn't aimed at a catholic school child whilst a loyalist shouts sectarian abuse. Along with Pan's Labyrinth, Straw Dogs is one of the movies that Hardy claims this movie to be a cross between and I can only assume that this home invasion aspect is what he means with his reference to the latter. Well, unless there's a deleted and misogynistically long rape scene knocking about somewhere anyway. Out of the entire movie, I'd say perhaps that this wasn't the strongest aspect but I still enjoyed it. There's at least one shot in which Claire attempts to hold a trap door down as the creatures arm pokes through with a nail aimed towards her eye that has a really cool Alien 3 feel to it. Except unlike Alien 3, The Hallow gets points for being an original film that hadn't already pissed me off by killing Newt and shitting over a classic. 

By the final third, the movie has gone fully batshit and turned into a cross between The Descent and the final few hours of a Glastonbury festival. We can see the creatures in all of their prosthetic and practical glory and the film really doesn't give up. I won't spoil too much but one of the characters is also having a transformative District 9/The Fly type experience which really adds to the tension and terror. Although it's nice to see when somebody new to the area really tries to integrate themselves with the neighbours I guess. I don't even know who lives three doors down from me but this do-gooder has gone to the extent of having their fucking skin fall off presumably for the sake of inclusion. The Pan's Labyrinth-element really comes into focus here too with the fairytale like mythology of the monsters being felt without the film having to spoon feed you the facts of their existence. You can tell that the production design is really working to subtly tell the history of this world unlike most horror movies which can barely disguise the simple fact that they're actually a barrel of wank. This is also the segment in which the eco message of the movie comes into focus and we're really reminded that chopping down trees might not be such a good idea. I guess the film is telling us that if somebody has wood then we should probably leave them alone to deal with it however they see fit. 

It's been a few years since the film's release and it definitely seems like it still deserves to be discovered by a lot more people. It's obviously not perfect but there's so much going for it that I think that most people are excited to see what Hardy will do next. As it stands, we're yet to see his next film, which will be a spin-off of The Conjuring 2 and focus on the nun character but I'm sure it'll be great. I mean if he can make a film this scary about a load of human shaped potatoes then just think of what he'll be able to do with a film about a nun! Nun's are hardcore. Have you seen The Sound Of Music? They might pretend to be into God but those devious women turned out to be even craftier than the fucking Nazis. In the meantime, I urge you to watch this film or if you've seen it then recommend it to a friend. We live in a world in which eight fucking Saw movies exist and it was by about ten minutes into the second one that I'd started to feel more pain through tedium than any of the Jigsaw's victims would ever fucking feel. There needs to be more original films, more films that appreciate the genre they're in, and more films to feature unique and interesting creatures.. especially if, like here, they look like an old sausage-roll auditioning for a role in the next Trainspotting movie.Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.

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