Minimalistic, yet very effective, Lee Cronin’s ‘Hole in the Ground’ is a traditional chiller which most definitely gets under your skin. Trading jump scares and visual horror for more traditional methods, the films atmosphere is sure to turn anyone’s hazy summers evening into a pitch-black abyss.
The film follows Sarah, a downtrodden single mother, and her son trip as they begin their new life, free of abuse, in a remote country house in rural Ireland. Following an argument her son runs off into the forest. His mother pursues, only to find a huge sinkhole consuming an area of forest not to far from her house. Chris reappears a short time later – different somehow; “It’s the little things, things only a mother would notice”. Has something really happened to Chris, or has Sarah mind broken under the pressure of her recent traumas?
‘Hole in the Ground’ really leans on its psychological elements to unnerve its audiences. Complimented by lingering camera work, a washed-out colour grade and a pulsing minimalistic score the film makes you feel as you are standing at the bottom of the films titular hole, looking up in despair. Despite a slow and somewhat awkward start, by the hour mark Cronin has done enough to get right under your skin. Admittedly it shouldn’t be all that hard to make you care about a kid in peril, but the film’s restraint with jump-scares and complete avoidance of CGI meant that the film straddled a very fine line between dealing with some dark ‘real-life’ themes, as well as the subtly implied fantasy themes that Chris might have been replaced with a doppelgänger of sorts, meaning you never really know which way the film is going to go.
The films more typical horror elements are as well thought out as the rest of the film’s elements. Whilst overall the film might lack the showstopping scenes of some more recent high-profile horror releases, ‘Hole in the Ground’ more than holds its own with some effectively tense scenes scattered throughout. Its not out right shit-yourself scary, but when you consider how invested you become in the story and the family’s plight, they work in context to give you the chills all the same. There’s some grim stuff in there for sure.
The acting is strong, and whilst there’s not a huge diversity in mood and tone (beyond hopeless and depressive that is) the small cast handle their roles well, keeping the intensity well grounded; in addition there are some cool visual effects later in the film to enjoy to!
Overall, ‘Hole in the Ground’ is a definite hit, and one you should make an effort to see as soon as you can. It’s very much a lights-off-and-settle-in horror film, it won’t have you jumping around the sofa, but it will leave you feeling pretty unsettled by its conclusion!
Now to check on my kids…