M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Six of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2015 and going through September 30, 2016. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t! Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

Released on November 5, 2015. Available on digital download and On Demand from IFC Midnight!

THE HALLOW (2015)

aka THE WOODS
Directed by Corin Hardy
Written by Corin Hardy, Felipe Marino
Starring Joseph Mawle, Bojana Novakovic, Michael McElhatton, Michael Smiley, Gary Lydon, Stuart Graham, Conor Craig Stephens, Stephen Cromwell, Charlotte Williams
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here

Taking on the same kind of wee beasties Guillermo Del Toro did in DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK?, THE HALLOW handles faeries, banshees, goblins, and other monsters that haunt the European countryside on a level very few monster mashes even hope to achieve.

Adam and Claire Hitchens (Joseph Mawle and Bojana Novakovic), along with their newborn baby Finn, move into a quiet country home in Ireland on the edge of a vast forest. Adam is a environmentalist tree doctor investigating a certain type of fungus that seems to be popping up all over the trees and corpses of wildlife he happens upon during his trips into the forest. Adam scoffs at the warnings from the local folks—including his not-so friendly neighbor Colm (Michael McElhatton), warning him that poking around in the woods will only lead to the woods poking around in his home. His wife Claire does the same when she rips off those pesky iron bars which adorn the doors and windows of their new home. Turns out the legends are true and a breed of faerie fungi begins infecting the home, the dog, and even Adam, all the while unleashing tree-like minions onto the home in order to steal the wee child.

THE HALLOW is a monster movie, so there are your usual scenes of non-believers beginning to believe when it’s too late. There’s the lead-up to the reveal of the monsters, as they are often obscured in shadows and only revealed in snippets through much of the first half, and then there’s the big standoff against the monsters where the final few somehow are able to fend off the beasts that so quickly disposed of the rest of the cast earlier on in the film. All of these factors are front and present, but what makes THE HALLOW distinct is that between these go-to monster movie beats are quite a few really well orchestrated scare scenes crescendo-ing to an all out battle between the family and an army of monsters from ancient lore. Director Corin Hardy has a fantastic knack for setting up scenes that maximize the chills, utilized over and over in this utterly creepy film.

On top of that, and the reason I respect this film much more than Gillermo’s DON’T AFRAID OF THE DARK? is that it incorporates both practical and computer effects in a much more seamless way. Looking at something like DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK? and CRIMSON PEAK, which were cool, but overly produced and CG-ed, I appreciate this film’s tackling of the same type of gothic, faerie lore in a manner that occurs in the frame with the actors and only utilizes the CG when absolutely necessary. THE HALLOW offers up some truly terrifying monsters—warped and knotted like ancient trees, as well as some very cool rotting, fungal CG which feels very much real. I don’t understand how billion-dollar movies look so fake in the frame, which more modest features such as THE HOLLOW can get so much of it right. Less is definitely better in terms of CG and THE HOLLOW follows that credo.

With a strong story of family sacrifice and loyalty and unique monsters that look fantastic, The cast is great too with HEARTLESS’ Joseph Mawle offering up a sympathetic role, and the beautiful Bojana Novakovic offering up the motherly strength to keep you rooting for the best to happen to this family. THE HOLLOW has faerie tale fantasy elements, but it is most definitely hardcore horror. This is one dark film, filled with moments that are bound to make you tremble and jump al all the right times.

Click here for the trailer!


THE 2015-2016 COUNTDOWN!


#30 – THE HALLOW
#31 – SOUTHBOUND


M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

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