Cast: Seana Kerslake, James Cosmo, Kati Outinen, Simone Kirby
Director: Lee Cronin
Let this movie be a lesson to everyone that even had the slightest doubts about A24. Regardless of the scale at which they release their movies, you are almost guaranteed to get a quality product. Whether this is a wide-scale theatrical release or a streaming release like The Hole in the Ground, A24 has once again created a haunting, methodical horror movie. Through a combination of both an unsettling plot and performances that elevate the film’s premise, The Hole in the Ground may not have the most wide-spread audience appeal, but those who watch it won’t be disappointed.
The movie follows Sarah O’Neill (Kerslake) a single mother who has moved to a small town in Ireland with her young son Chris (James Quinn Markey). When Chris starts to showcase strange behavior, Sarah has to decide whether or not this behavior is really happening or if her mind is just playing tricks on her. With A24’s focus on more quiet, creepy horror movies compared to the more mainstream ones that rely on jump scares, it’s no surprise that this movie runs at a pace where every moment keeps you on edge and prepared for the worst. It’s never really clear whether these events are real or not, and this level of suspense and mystery helps aid the overall concept of the story. When you have a lead performance from an actress like Kerslake, you get a sense of immersion that you wouldn’t get if you the performance wasn’t as good. You can tell from every scene that she’s in that Sarah cares about her son and only wants the best for him, but has to come to the realization that her son may be something far more supernatural than she’s ever dealt with. Even as a child actor, Markey beautifully toes the line between this sweet little Irish boy and a devil-child set on causing as much destruction as possible. Not many children can handle the pressure of holding a film like this together so I hope it’s a sign of great things to come for Markey. Even though an Irish horror movie doesn’t have the most widespread American appeal, I really do wish A24 took a chance and tried distributing this movie in a more accessible manner. A24 has an arsenal of talent at their disposal and it’s at the point where whatever they release is almost automatically good. Considering this was a March release, there wasn’t a whole lot competition for The Hole in the Ground to face. Maybe a limited release and then eventually expanding based on the demand would help, but The Hole in the Ground is better than it’s straight-to-stream setup that A24 gave it. The Hole in the Ground isn’t a perfect movie, but the mystery and suspense combined with the level of entertainment make this movie a very strong addition to the horror genre. As an introduction to Irish horror-culture, The Hole in the Ground takes themes you’ve seen in similar films and provides a nice twist to them that makes the film culturally authentic.
Overall, The Hole in the Ground won’t be known for its star-studded cast or its ability to connect with American audiences, but it will be remembered as a creepy, calculated movie from a studio with an infatuation for these types of movies. I don’t know a whole lot about Irish culture or these actors in particular, I can easily admit when I see a horror movie that other audiences can enjoy or relate to, and that’s clearly the case with The Hole in the Ground. I don’t Cronin is planning on doing next, but I hope it’s as interesting and well-crafted as this movie.
Overall Score: 7/10