California Cool: This Irish-built contemporary home is a music lover’s dream
California Cool: This Irish-built contemporary home is a music lover’s dream

IMAGE

We need to just stop commenting on other people’s bodies
We need to just stop commenting on other people’s bodies

Megan Burns

18 of Dublin’s best cheap eats
18 of Dublin’s best cheap eats

Ali Dunworth

Myleene Klass: The trauma of miscarriage ‘never goes away’
Myleene Klass: The trauma of miscarriage ‘never goes away’

Sarah Finnan

We all woke up this morning and played Adele’s new song, right? Here’s what we know about the upcoming album
We all woke up this morning and played Adele’s new song, right? Here’s what we...

Megan Burns

Are you a new startup or an SME looking to scale up? These 3 industry leaders could make all the difference to your bottom line
Are you a new startup or an SME looking to scale up? These 3 industry...

Shayna Sappington

The Writing Shed: Author Catherine Talbot on her creative space, writing routine and everything in between.
The Writing Shed: Author Catherine Talbot on her creative space, writing routine and everything in...

Sophie Grenham

5 key layering pieces to stay chic and cosy for outdoor dining
5 key layering pieces to stay chic and cosy for outdoor dining

Louise Slyth

Prince William says what we’re all thinking about space tourism: Stop it
Prince William says what we’re all thinking about space tourism: Stop it

Megan Burns

‘Is it a missed miscarriage then?’ I ask the ultrasound technician, all business as I push the reality, the grief away”
‘Is it a missed miscarriage then?’ I ask the ultrasound technician, all business as I...

Niamh O'Leary

Image / Editorial

Review: The Hole in the Ground represents a new generation of Irish talent


by Erin Lindsay
19th Feb 2019
blank

The phrase ‘Irish horror film’ sounds like a bit of a stretch of the imagination. After all, we’re normally seen as the happy-go-lucky, often drunken, type — not exactly made for striking fear into the hearts of audiences. But when I look back to my own childhood and some of the things that scared me the most, it strikes me how distinctly Irish they really were. The Banshee, whose scream was most likely a fox or a cat yowling out on the road, had me fearing for my family’s life in bed. Irish folklore, telling of Tír na nÓg and the Children of Lir, were cautionary tales not to follow magical forces, lest you be banished to far off lands without family or friends. And the songs that my parents would sing absent-mindedly from time to time weren’t exactly nursery rhymes — She stuck the pen-knife in the baby’s heart, down by the River Saile.

How fitting that this song (hauntingly sung by Lisa Hannigan) would be the closing number to The Hole in the Ground — a new film that has brought to light just how big the genre of ‘Irish horror move’ can be. The feature-length debut from director Lee Cronin follows single mother Sarah (played by Seána Kerslake, of Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope and A Date for Mad Mary fame) and her son Chris (James Quinn Markey) as they struggle to settle into a new life at the edge of a forest. The town and the local school are strange to Chris, and an elderly neighbour (Kati Outinen) makes Sarah uneasy. But things seem to be going okay, until one night, Chris disappears into the woods. When he returns, he’s not the same energetic, present boy that Sarah is used to — and she begins to question what exactly happened to him that night in the forest.

Modern Ireland

The film takes the Irish folklore classic trope of the changeling — a child who has been taken from his home and replaced with a lookalike — and moulds it to intertwine with issues of modern Irish life; mental health, single motherhood, death, superstition. Is Sarah right in her concerns about Chris? Or is the move and previous issues taking their toll on her mental state? Is their elderly neighbour just a ‘mad old woman’? Or is there something more to her behaviour?

We’re still in the early stages in Ireland of positive conversations around women’s health, and that goes for mental health too. This is what The Hole in the Ground takes, however subtly, and presents back to the audience so well — in many ways, Sarah’s scenes with her doctor are the most compelling. Should we believe women when they speak up about something being wrong? Or should we pass it off as an over-reaction?

‘A proper good horror movie’

But apart from the intelligent undertones that elevate The Hole in the Ground to such an interesting story, it is also just a proper good horror movie. The tension builds from the opening scenes (director Lee Cronin warned that it would get loud, and he wasn’t lying) and peaks at numerous points throughout the movie. From Chris’s creepily polite demeanour to Sarah’s strained DIY efforts around the house, the audience is left clutching the armrests, dying for a break from the pressure. And it comes hard and fast, with creaking floors, creepy-crawlies, supernatural creatures, and, yes, a hole in the ground.

But one thing that doesn’t punctuate the tension is the sound of a scream. You’d think that a new horror movie’s first port of call would be employing a lead with a good pair of lungs, but that wasn’t on Cronin’s mind here — Sarah doesn’t scream once throughout the 90 minutes running time. It’s refreshing to watch a horror without the time-wasting that screaming takes up (movie heroines would probably escape a lot easier if they didn’t spend all their time screaming, but I digress), and you find yourself rooting for Sarah a lot more because of it. Her son Chris’s descent into blank-stared terror is perfect, and his young talent, paired with Kerslake’s steadfast presence and Cronin’s inspired vision (who knew the Wicklow mountains could look so horrifying and so beautiful at the same time), results in a triumph of an Irish horror movie.


I sat down with Seána Kerslake and Lee Cronin to chat further about their vision for The Hole in the Ground. It’s out in cinemas on March 1.

Also Read

houseplants
EDITORIAL
5 houseplants we guarantee you can keep alive

For those who buy houseplants with the best of intentions and end up killing them, here’s a selection you’ll be...

By Hannah Hillyer

blank
EDITORIAL
Attending multiple weddings this year? How to save money as a guest

These days, going to a wedding is the equivalent of going on a short holiday in terms of cost. From...

By Jennifer McShane

blank
EDITORIAL
This spatchcock chicken recipe will make your weekend

This is a great way to get a juicy roast chicken, bursting with flavour.     Bord Bia’s Spatchcock Chicken...

By Meg Walker

blank
EDITORIAL
This is what happens when you hypersexualise young girls growing up

Who is demanding the fetishization of young girls anyway?”When I was working in my early twenties, and even my late...

By Amanda Cassidy

blank
EDITORIAL
Sarah Harding’s heartbroken mum announces the singer’s death aged just 39

Sarah Harding has died at the age of just 39, her heartbroken mother revealed today. The Girls Aloud star had...

By Amanda Cassidy

Keith-_-Tara_130_Web Shantanu Starick painting kitchen cabinets
EDITORIAL
How to limit drips and brush strokes while painting kitchen cabinets

Painting kitchen cabinets can be transformative and can be achieved relatively low-cost, but you need the right equipment, and a lot of...

By Amanda Kavanagh

blank
EDITORIAL
Trinity Tales: ‘Front Square was her garden, and the city was her playground’

Annie Gatling, now Colleran, knew Trinity College was for her when she saw Front Gate from the top storey of...

By Amanda Cassidy