IRISH HORROR The Hole In The Ground arrived on Netflix last month, and was immediately tipped to be the scariest movie to ever come out of Ireland.
Although the bar isn't very high in that respect (Shrooms and Isolation are the only two Irish horrors I can even think of off the top of my head, and neither of those were very good) but when I read reviews like that about a film-- especially a horror film-- I'm instantly cynical. Just how many 'scariest movie of the year' can there be, after all? If people are passing out from fear in theatres so often, why have I never witnessed it?
But despite my original cynicism, The Hole in the Ground is very, very good. Maybe not 'scariest movie in the world' good, but definitely creepy enough that I'd have no hesitation in recommending it to any horror fan.
Set in the most rural part of the isolated Irish countryside, the film tells the story of Sarah (Séana Kerslake) and her young son Chris (James Quinn Markey), and the terror that unfolds when Sarah becomes convinced that her child has been replaced by an unearthly being that came from the mysterious, ominous sinkhole hidden in the forest.
Drawing inspiration from the Irish folklore of the Changeling, this film manages to retain a sense of originality despite dozens of movies which centre on basically the same premise.
Clever camera angles create a sense of unease from the beginning, and the story doesn't rely on jump scares to keep the viewer's pulse racing, preferring to use the unsettling atmosphere within the plotline itself, which really works here.
There are a few scenes which stand out as being particularly impressive-- arachnophobes might want to steer clear of this film-- but it is the scene which depicts young Chris singing The Rattlin' Bog at the school talent show which was by far the most menacing and which encapsulates the atmosphere of the film as a whole.
The Hole in the Ground is well worth a watch, and easily holds up on its own just as a horror movie, not just as an 'Irish horror movie'; but that said, this film has certainly set the bar for any future horrors to come out of Ireland, and this is something director Lee Cronin can be proud of.