The Hole in the Ground
Seana Kerslake, James Quinn Markey, James Cosmo, Simone Kirby, Steve Wall
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…an effective, lowkey bit of allegorical horror with solid performances and a third act that crackles with surreal menace and effective tension.
Being a parent is hard work. That’s a statement with which even the most earnestly evangelical of breeder will agree, and being a parent of a difficult child is immeasurably harder still. But what if your child isn’t just a bit of a dick, what if your ruggie is actually supernaturally evil? This premise has proven fertile ground for horror movies throughout cinema’s history, with classics like The Bad Seed (1956), The Omen (1976) and Cronenberg’s The Brood (1979). More recently films like Insidious (2010), The Babadook (2014) and Hereditary (2018) have joined the ranks of this well-worn subgenre. Now, first-time feature director Lee Cronin brings his take, The Hole in the Ground, to the table to mostly effective results.
The Hole in the Ground tells the tale of Sarah O’Neill (Seana Kerslake) and her son, Chris (James Quinn Markey). The pair have moved to the idyllic, but isolated, Irish countryside for reasons initially unspecified, but clearly not ideal. Sarah is trying to be strong for her son, but she’s experienced recent trauma, both physical and mental. Chris is an odd, imaginative, kid who is unsure about the reasons for his life’s upheaval, and does take it out on his mum from time to time. However, he soon becomes fascinated by an enormous hole in the ground out the back of his new house, and wouldn’t that be fun to explore…
The Hole in the Ground spends the bulk of its 90 minute runtime building tension slowly, but effectively, as Chris’s behaviour gets more out of character and bizarre. His change from weird kid to ‘the other’ is conveyed effectively by both director and the young actor. Of course, these films depend in large part on the effectiveness of the pay off, and in that regard The Hole in the Ground doesn’t disappoint. The third act is tense, surreal and genuinely gripping, showing that Cronin haseserious genre chops.
In terms of its overall place in the subgenre, The Hole in the Ground is not quite as revelatory as The Babadook or Hereditary, treading more familiar genre beats rather than forging its own identity. That said, it’s still an effective, lowkey bit of allegorical horror with solid performances and a third act that crackles with surreal menace and effective tension. If that sounds like your cup of tea, you’ll find The Hole in the Ground has a lot to dig.