Opening 2 May 2019
From the opening sequence, Irish director Lee Cronin’s debut feature film demonstrates an impressively firm command of production features. The Horror genre is Cronin’s specialty — the award-winning Ghost Train, 2013, Billy & Chuck, 2011, Through the Night, 2010; Cronin, cinematographer Tom Comerford and editor Colin Campbell are a formidable team. A brilliant opening sequence—sound design, visuals cut to the nth degree—makes it clear we are on our way down a mysterious hole.
Sarah (balanced performance by Kerslake) and Christopher (Markey assuredly pulls off a challenging debut performance) are adjusting to moving house: new school, new surroundings, and a new / old creaking and groaning house. The precocious 8-year old struggles more than mom, whose renovating, job, and forgetting the past keeps her preoccupied. Their first encounter with strangeness happens driving home. The house seems to talk at night as well. Sarah discovers a sinkhole in the forest. Soon after, the peculiar neighbor acts bizarrely; at a dinner party, Sarah hears the disconcerting tale about “Walkie-Talkie.” Is Chris changing? Her nerves frazzle in tandem with oddities going on around them. At Noreen’s (Kati Outinen) wake, Sarah talks with Des (James Cosmo) about his wife, and son. As Chris’ personality inconsistencies fester, Sarah turns to Des again. Feeling helpless, only the depth and fury of a mother’s willpower will protect bairn and lair.
Cronin and co-writer Stephen Shields’ account of the prevalence of evil moving through generations lacks ingenuity, except during the last few intense, puzzling minutes. Stephen McKeon’s music is good, albeit sometimes obvious; song choices are better. Even so, The Hole in the Ground’s insidiousness is good for a scare or three. (Marinell Haegelin)