Creepy & Unsettling But Not Particularly Original
The Hole In The Ground doesn’t reinvent the wheel or have a particularly original plot line. In fact, a lot of the material here feels recycled from other sources but yet somehow the film does exceptionally well with what little it has. Unsettling, creepy and methodically paced, the latest horror from A24 is surprising good although it’s unlikely to be a film for everyone. Much like It Comes At Night and A Dark Song before it, The Hole In The Ground is a very slow-paced horror playing on that psychological uneasiness for much of the run time until the inevitable climactic finale.
The story is simple enough and predominantly revolves around Sarah and her son Chris. The two share a close bond together and through the opening chapter of the film we see how close they really are as they adjust to life in their new house in the countryside after moving from the city. Overlooking the lush forest in the distance, an incident in the middle of the night sees Chris run away and a panic-stricken Sarah trying to find him in the dead of night. When Chris turns up back home several hours later, Sarah tries to figure out if her Son really is who he says he is. What ensues from here is a paranoia-inducing, dread-filled hour of mistrust and visions.
Those looking for a fast paced horror rife with jump scares and gore will certainly be left wanting here. For large stretches of the film not much happens. While this may seem like a recipe for disaster, the slow pace actually works really well to build up the tension during some of the more unsettling moments. These are easily the stand outs of the film too and despite the final act changing the setting and pace of the film somewhat, the unsettling feel continues to ooze through every part of the film through to the well written final scene.
The Hole In The Ground has a real love/hate relationship with lighting here too. In some scenes the lighting is fantastic, heightening the tension and delivering some pretty scary moments. One in particular early on sees a point of view shot from Sarah’s perspective shining a flashlight between trees. By comparison, a scene late on in the film involves a flickering phosphorescent light that makes it very difficult to see what’s actually happening. This inconsistency does detract a little from the enjoyment but for the most part, the film does well to quell this with likable characters throughout.
Lighting issues aside, The Hole In The Ground is a surprisingly engrossing film. It may not be that original in its delivery nor feature a unique storyline but its the execution, coupled with decent acting from the lead stars, that make this one such an enjoyable horror. While A Dark Song is still the better choice in terms of slow-paced horrors, The Hole In The Ground does well to hold its own. It’s not perfect but it’s certainly better than most horrors released nowadays and for that alone, this one is worth checking out.
Verdict - 6.5/10