- US Release: March 1, 2019 (Limited)
- Runtime: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Directed by Lee Cronin
- Written by Lee Cronin, Steve Shields
- Starring Seána Kerslake, James Cosmo, James Quinn Markey, Simone Kirby
- Grade: B
- It’s Good!
Sarah (Seána Kerslake) and her son Chris (James Quinn Markey) move to a new home in the Irish countryside to build a new life. They find a massive sinkhole in the forest nearby, and soon after Chris starts displaying very disturbing behavior. As strange incidents mount, Sarah slowly grows convinced that the boy in her house is not her son.
So, this is the second “imposter child” film in the last two months (The Prodigy and The Hole in the Ground). Sorry, parents, but the film gods are tormenting us right now.
The Hole in the Ground does just enough to lay the, um, groundwork for a solid horror film without really providing anything original. It has a few of the usual clichés, such as the bizarre old lady, a handful of jump scares, and a creepy kid. It’s also unnecessarily murky in too many scenes. However, the final product is so competently executed that it is easy to see past the lack of originality. The production values are solid, the house and nearby woods are extraordinarily eerie (really excellent location choices for filming), the score is beautifully unsettling, and the performances are terrific. In short, it is a damn good movie telling an old tale.
Seána Kerslake is an actress to watch. In The Hole in the Ground, she looks uncannily like Scarlet Johansson in Lost in Translation, and she gives a refreshingly convincing performance as a young mother trying to reconcile the conflict between her logical brain and her emotional heart. She doesn’t scream, weep, and tiptoe through the house in lingerie looking for some odd noise. She displays a quiet, intense fear that either she is going insane or something insane is happening in her house, and the script is ambiguous enough to keep an audience guessing. Grizzled veteran actor James Cosmo has a small but memorable role, and he plays an important part in one of the edgiest moments in the film.
Horror films, unfortunately, aren’t usually all that good. Out of about thirty or so, I’d estimate only a half-dozen are even worth watching. The Hole in the Ground is the fourth horror film I’ve seen this year, and it’s far and away the best of the bunch. It’s not a great movie, but if you like horror, it’s certainly worth a view.