The Hallow is an Irish horror film that focuses on a couple moving into a forest and having weird phenomena happening around them. A strong environmental edge to this movie adds a bit of newness to the first chunk, despite the familiar trappings. Our couple, Adam (Joseph Mawle) and Clare (Bojana Novakovic) move to an old house so Adam can do research in a forest that has been sold off. A big plus to this movie is that the couple isn’t moving out in the middle of nowhere to fix their marriage. Further, the two of them seem at least moderately capable of this sort of lifestyle. Unfortunately, our lead characters (more so Mawle) seem too stiff in light of what begins to happen.
The people around the town are upset that Adam dares to go into the forest. They believe he will stir up the Hallow and bring evil upon everyone. The story borrows from Irish Folktales, which gives the film kind of a neat edge. The problem though, is that the townsfolk are a bunch of jerks who go about convincing Adam and Clare in the worst ways possible. If their goal was to run them out of town, it might make sense, but the film wants the townsfolk to be irritated, but not necessarily malicious. It is a confusing tone and doesn’t really work. However, it could also be that Adam is kind of a dumbass and is complicating the situation. Either way, there is a problem with the setup that makes it more frustrating than frightening.
Despite some interesting twists in the setup, the film becomes more standard genre fare once the movie really gets going. Now, our characters aren’t idiots, which is a nice change of pace from normal horror films. However, despite not being stupid they still do not communicate. Without any real dialogue at several points it becomes a little unbelievable. The atmosphere stays nicely tense, but there is something amiss when it is trying to be scary. The monsters look a little silly, which hurts the scare factor.
One thing the film does well is the constant shifting between types of horror genres that is emulates. We have a haunted forest, a parasitic organism, demons, and home invasion wrapped into one package. Some of the moments work well, and as said, the tension remains at high levels throughout.
This review might seem a little back and forth, and that is an accurate assessment of how I feel about the movie. Unfortunately, the film operates on a downward arc—if the beginning doesn’t grab you the end will irritate you. The end might irritate you anyway. The film tries, and the gritty realism of a lot of the scenes adds a bit, but it simply doesn’t come together in a completely fulfilling way. 4/10