Hole in the Ground is one of the essential new horror movies to see in 2019. Creepy kid movies are either terrible or fantastic and there is usually no in-between. That’s a bet I’m willing to take when it comes to horror and this one might have gone the way I expected it to but it also avoided the typical clichés while still setting them up. While not perfect, its got plenty to offer.
Released February 2019 after a premiere at Sundance, The Hole in the Ground was written and directed by Lee Cronin. Stephen Shields co-wrote is and its distributor is A24 (The Night Comes For Us.) Produced by Savage Productions, who’s most recent new horror film was The Cured (2017), they also had some success with Return to Montauk (2017) and You’re Ugly Too (2015.)
What to eat with a movie about a giant hole. Try these shovel snacks. Be ironic.
You know, like if someone aalllmost trips over while being chased by a bear but doesn’t— the fact the camera zoomed in on a twig they would have tripped on left me with an unused angry feeling. There are a few examples in this film where the set up is there, but then nothing happens. Like a horror trope red herring. Is that a good thing? I don’t know, I’m confused. There are no bears in this but there are certainly a few unused tropes.
Going into this film blind won’t help, the poster and the trailer all point to a situation where Sarah’s son suddenly isn’t who he says he is. With the success of the film Goodnight Mommy (2014), I must admit, I just wanted a ride that was made as well as that, without it being the same.
The Hole in the Ground is not breaking any new ground here— it’s a fairly classic portrayal of the body snatcher kind that’s, unfortunately, been done better by more than one film before it. Besides Goodnight Mommy, the old school Mimic (1997) came to mind while I was watching this too.
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The acting is all pretty nice here. Sarah is a complete standout and totally outshines what should be a more influencing presence— her creepy kid. Her son Chris, played by James Quinn Markey totally nails what he is given but he just isn’t given enough meat to create an impact. Maybe this was intentional and the spotlight is supposed to be on how his mother handles everything. It really could have done with some more tension though. I never felt like she was in real danger. The film’s tone, atmosphere, and mood are plenty enough to keep your interest until the end and that’s still pretty good.
At first, I was unenthusiastic about Sarah running into a weird old lady from the village they live in by randomly appearing literally in front of her. I wanted this to have been connected differently. But the more I think about whether this could have been done better, the more satisfied I was with this part of the story. In fact, I think it’s actually a clever way to incorporate backdrop characters into the narrative and also have a bit of depth to them as well. The old lady’s husband was nicely done as well.
The Hole in the Hole in the Ground
I don’t need a big reveal on how Chris came to be, nor an explanation for what the heck we end up seeing in the hole, but I really want to know why people in town never mention it. We can assume that it’s been there for some time… Sarah finds it pretty easily right at the start, so it’s fair to assume other people know it’s there too. The hole itself is awesome. I love it, I want more and the camera work of it and the forest surrounding it was fantastic. But perhaps if someone in town had simply mentioned there is a giant freaking hole up yonder, you know like just slipped those words into a conversation, that would have been just great.
Overall, this is a film that will satisfy most unless you are looking for something that packs a bigger punch. If you are, go back and watch Goodnight Mommy before the USA releases the English speaking version.
I give The Hole in the Ground
3 you don’t need that many mirrors out of 5