The Hole In The Ground - a mother and son horror

Neil Cronin's debut film brings an original touch to the horror genre

Seana Kerslake in The Hole In The Ground.

Seana Kerslake in The Hole In The Ground.

SINGLE MOTHER Sarah has moved to an old farm house in the Wicklow mountains. Her son Chris is unhappy in his new school and misses his father. She does her best, but the isolation is clearly getting to her.

Matters are not helped by the football pitch sized sinkhole in the forest near her house, certainly not ideal when Chris has a penchant for wandering off. After a run-in with a local mad woman who has been accused by all in the town of murder decades ago, Sarah starts to question her own sanity (the first time I questioned her sanity was the fact she only seemed to own and wear dungarees ), and then Chris begins to act strangely.

The film draws inspiration from many recent movies, notably the 2014 Aussie horror The Babadook, but debutant Irish director Neil Cronin does more than enough to make this film unique. While he uses plenty of tropes familiar to regular consumers of horror films, he still has a few tricks up his sleeve. He’s blessed with lead Seana Kerslake, who plays Sarah. She has a real presence and an ability to display toughness and immense vulnerability at the same time. It is hinted that her relationship with Chris' father ended violently which gives her relationship with her son an uncomfortable subtext.

'One of the more terrifying concepts in the film is a mother being afraid of her own child'

What is it about children in film? When in comedies and dramas there are few good performances, but so many times in horror movies children are great (this could be a personal thing as I am deeply terrified of children ). Think Linda Blair in The Exorcist and Millie Shapiro in Heredity. Young James Quinn Markey, who plays Chris here, does a great job.

hole in the ground

One of the more terrifying concepts in film, or literature, is a mother being afraid of her own child. Whether fantastical like The Babadook or realistic like We Need To Talk About Kevin, it is a concept which makes me uncomfortable. When Sarah's sanity is questioned, and you feel you are potentially dealing with an unreliable protagonist, the movie is scary on two levels - the traditional sense of a potential monster or demon that has replaced or possessed Chris, and the more upsetting fact that Sarah is losing her mind and could do something truly horrendous to an innocent.

The Hole In The Ground is a really fine debut from Cronin and a brilliant performance from Kerslake. Stay around for a haunting and beautiful end credits song by Lisa Hannigan

4/5.

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