The Hallow (2015)

A supernatural thriller about a family moving to a new home in darkly wooded Northern Island. Not to be confused with The Hollow (2015).

Like most horror movies, I highly recommend not watching trailers beforehand for this particular movie. The Hallow (2015) is a slow burn at first, focusing mainly on the family and their new baby moving to a home in Northern Island to do some research on a fungus that is growing in the forest and affecting the wildlife there. Despite their peaceful presence, the locals don’t seem to like them very much.

The rest of this review might as well be full of spoilers and a few trigger warnings after the following trailer. If you don’t want to know anything else, stop after this paragraph. The “safe” review can be summed up with the following:

Surprisingly good horror film with supernatural elements, some rather violent moments, and some great practical special effects. If I had to place this movie into a category, you’ll probably like this movie if you like movies where people are isolated in the woods in a house, surrounded by demonic forces trying to break in. I find horror movies to be horribly difficult to rate, because I think we all find certain things scary that others will not. And whether or not you like it depends on that, plus some uniqueness and relatively good acting. This has all three, in my opinion. It’s not the best horror movie I’ve seen in recent memory, but I did enjoy it.

Trigger warning: Severe baby endangerment, eyeball trauma.

Here is the trailer, which I feel gives far too much away:

Now on to the spoiler-review:

Like a few other movies I know and love, this movie begins ominously, showing the more seemingly-scientific results of devastation at the hands of a fungus/virus/infection upon the Northern Ireland wilderness. Adam (a conservationist), his wife, and newborn child all move to an old house in these woods in order to study the cordyceps fungus. If you don’t know, cordyceps is a genus of fungi that infects its host with spores and takes control of its brain, consuming it from the inside and using it to spread its spores further. It’s the basis for the zombie epidemic in The Last of Us, and always comes with some disturbing imagery of the fungus bursting from the skin and mutating its host. This film is no different in that sense, but it does take a fantastically supernatural approach, allowing for some magnificent practical creature design that feels like it comes right out of folklore.

The story progresses as the neighbors continue to warn the new residents, Adam finds more and more advanced mutated fungal hosts, and they discover that the woods are indeed after their baby, and they are all in danger of becoming infected themselves while being simultaneously trapped and hunted.

I personally enjoyed it, though I feel as though the beginning didn’t keep my attention as much as it could have, or maybe I was just tired. I loved the forest monsters—they’re the type of things I love to draw, and they had a Guillermo del Toro flair to them, making them both skeletal and wooden at the same time.

If I had to place this on some sort of flowchart near other movies, I’d say this is somewhere in the realm of The Tall Man (Jessica Biel, 2012) and maybe not quite as good as Evil Dead (2013) but with a similar flow to both. Available on Netflix streaming right now for subscribers, and worth your time if you feel like there are no good, newer horror flicks being made.

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