Early 2019 seems to be the year of the evil child… What with The Progeny, Brightburn and the creepy kids in Jordan Peel’s Us, ravenous rugrats and malevolent moppets seem to be the order of the day and if they end up being half as satisfying as The Hole In The Ground then there’s a good chance that the numbers of pregnancies will drop sharply this year.
Moving to an isolated house to put distance between a difficult relationship a single mother is trying to put her life together. Trying to single handedly fix the place up, hold down a job and raise her difficult son, she discovers a crumbling, Sarlacc pit sized sinkhole in the woods behind her residence. One night she awakes to find her son not in the house and flees into the woods to desperately locate him but on returning home finds him already there claiming he never, in fact, left. Life goes on but little facts start bugging the mother. Her son’s personality seems to have changed, he’s more polite, he talks slightly differently, he’s making friends all of a sudden but she shrugs that off until she witnesses him one night scampering around his bedroom on all fours and doing things with a spider that an arachnaphobe shouldn’t be doing…
By now the mother’s paranoia is in full swing, but is that really all it is, or is something far more sinister going on.
My affection for slow burn horror has been previously mentioned on this page but there really us nothing like it when it’s done well, and believe you me, The Hole In The Ground is done really, really well. The suffocating dread dotted with occasional bursts of unnerving horror is doled out here with professional verve by director Lee Cronin making his full length feature debut, as he expertly drip feeds doubt and uncertainty into both our and his lead character’s minds.
In give too much away would be to do the movie a disservice but trust me when I say that everyone involved here truly deserve to go on to bigger things, not least of all Seána Kerslake who gives a phenomenal performance as the beleaguered young mother as does James Quinn Markey as the young boy in question. The fact that it’s a two-hander between them for the lions share of the film and that the film is SO gripping is a testament to their performances.
How satisfying you personally find the film rests heavily on how you receive the details of what is actually going on (is she nuts or does the boy have some otherworldy shenanigans going on?) and thats always gonna be 50/50 anyway but for the vast majority of it’s run time The Hole In The Ground slots favourably alongside other resent genre pieces from these shores The Ritual, The Hallow and Apostle and even would make a cracking double bill with that other horror film about not bonding with your child; The Babadook.
Simple, effective and supremely well acted, The Hole In The Ground is one indie frightener that doesn’t deserve to be buried.