The Hole in the Ground


Another creepy kid flick.

(2019) Horror (A24Seána Kerslake, James Quinn Markey, Kati Outinen, David Crowley, Simone Kirby, Steve Wall, Eoin Macken, Sarah Hanley, Andrew Bennett, James Cosmo, John Quinn, Miro Loppen, David McMahon, Alain Eloy, Chloé Grogan, Gregory Praet, Kobe Truijens, Stevie Greaney, Karim Barras, Helena Coppejans. Directed by Lee Cronin

 

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A young woman, Sarah (Kerslake) escapes a (possibly abusive) relationship with her young son Chris (Markey) to a creepy old house in the middle of nowhere. One day, her little boy disappears for a short time, only to turn up in his bedroom, insisting he had been there all along.

After that incident, he begins to change in subtle but terrifying ways. Sarah becomes slowly convinced that her boy that disappeared is not the one that returned home, particularly after the rantings of a (possibly demented) old woman (Outinen) proclaim “that is not your son!” Might it have something to do with the gigantic but oddly symmetrical sinkhole near the house that nobody else in the village even knows about?

In the last few years, we’ve been treated to some innovative and downright terrifying movies in the independent horror genre. This isn’t one of them. You get the sense that Cronin is trying too hard to create an atmosphere of dread, but he throws way too many red herrings in our direction, hoping that one will stick. That isn’t to say there aren’t some wonderfully inventive moments with some foreshadowing that hints at infernal roots, and yes, the movie does deliver on some of the scares. Kerslake makes for a resolute heroine, and her emotional journey is believable. I just wish Cronin had had enough faith in his story to pull through without the completely unnecessary white noise that he delivers.

REASONS TO SEE: Kerslake does a fairly decent job.
REASONS TO AVOID: Tries a little too hard to be atmospheric, throwing too many red herrings at the audience.
FAMILY VALUES: There are some disturbing images.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: The pattern on the wallpaper Sarah is working on is a reference to The Shining.
BEYOND THE THEATERS: Amazon, AppleTV, Fandango Now, Google Play, Kanopy, Microsoft, Redbox, Vudu, YouTube
CRITICAL MASS: As of 8/18/20: Rotten Tomatoes: 83% positive reviews, Metacritic: 63/100
COMPARISON SHOPPING: The Prodigy (2019)
FINAL RATING: 6/10
NEXT:
Black Water: Abyss

Pick of the Litter – March 2019


BLOCKBUSTER OF THE MONTH

Captain Marvel

(Disney/Marvel) Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jude Law, Annette Bening. This is the story of Carol Danvers, a human test pilot who becomes one of the most powerful creatures in the universe as Earth is caught in the middle of a war between two alien races. Set in the 1990s, this will be the last MCU film before the finale in May brings to a conclusion the first four phases of the lucrative film franchise with Avengers: Endgame. March 8

INDEPENDENT PICKS

The Hole in the Ground

(A24) Seána Kerslake, James Quinn Markey, Simone Kirby, Steve Wall. In this creepy Irish horror film, a woman struggles to begin a new life with her little boy in a rural environment but her fragile security is shattered by a crazy neighbor who insists her boy is not her son. As the kid begins to change in unsettling ways, she finds a terrifying connection between those changes and a mysterious sinkhole in the woods bordering her house. Is this paranoia on her part or is there something really horrifying going on?  March 1

Saint Judy

(Blue Fox) Michelle Monaghan, Common, Alfred Molina, Alfre Woodard. Based on a true story, a young lawyer starts her life over with her son at an immigration law firm in Los Angeles. She takes on a case in which a Muslim woman, if not given asylum in the United States, will almost certainly be killed if she returns home. The lawyer must find a way around existing laws to save this woman’s life – and a nation’s soul. March 1

Gloria Bell

(A24) Julianne Moore, John Turturro, Michael Cena, Jeanne Tripplehorn. The titular character is a 50-something office worker who lives a bland existence by day but by night hits the dance clubs of L.A. looking for love. One night, she finds it. March 8

I’m Not Here

(Gravitas Ventures) J.K. Simmons, Sebastian Stan, Maika Monroe, Mandy Moore. An old man, estranged from his family, receives terrible news. Lost and trying to make sense of his situation, he turns to his past to discover where things went so terribly wrong and perhaps that it isn’t too late to fix things. March 8

Ash is Purest White

(Cohen Media Group) Tao Zhao, Fan Liao, Zheng Xu, Yi’nan Diao. The girlfriend of a small-time gangster fires a gun to protect him during a fight between rival gangs and is sent to prison for five years for it. When she is released, she hopes to pick up where things left off but that becomes clearly impossible; both parties have changed too much. This is the latest from acclaimed Chinese director Zhangke Jia. March 15

Iceman

(Omnibus) Jürgen Vogel, Andrė Hennicke, Susanne Wuest, Sabin Tambrea. In the Őtztal Alps in 1991, a human body was found in a melting glacier. At first mistaken for a modern hiker, scientists were astonished to find the body was over 5,000 years old. Based on that true event, this movie is a conjecture as to how that man got to his final resting place. The preview is also available on most Virtual Reality services including Oculus Rift, this is one of the first independent features to be so available. March 15

Roll Red Roll

(Sunset Park) Nancy Schwartzman. A two-paragraph newspaper story about two Steubenville High School football players arrested for the rape of an underage girl set off an investigative journalist off to look deeper. What she discovered was a town so invested in their high school football team that they were exposing their daughters to danger to protect their sons. This look at the pervasiveness of rape culture in small town America made national headlines. March 22

Diane

(IFC) Mary Kay Place, Jake Lacy, Andrea Martin, Estelle Parsons. Diane has always been the sort who feels compelled to help others. She also has a son who is dealing with his own drug addiction. With her world quietly beginning to self-destruct around her, Diane must face some elements of her past that she’d sooner forget. March 29