The Hallow concerns a London conservationist and his wife who, along with their infant son and dog, move to the remote Irish forests. Their neighbours are suitably unwelcoming, warning that they are stepping on the toes of various monsters of Irish folklore. Unfortunately, after a strong first 20 minutes, it seems that writer/director Corin Hardy either ran out of ideas or got lazy, and the rest plays out like a hybrid of The Evil Dead and Dog Soldiers which takes itself entirely too seriously. Hardy attempts to build tension before finally revealing the monsters but the techniques he uses are overused and ineffective: cameras flash, lights flicker, keyholes are looked through, dogs bark into open space; you’ve seen it all before. Once the monsters are revealed however, they are more often than not kept to the shadows or otherwise obscured and, consequently, the results are suitably unsettling.
Our two leads, Joseph Mawle and Bojana Novakovic, give passable if completely unspectacular performances. Indeed, the best performance comes in the form of the limited screen time given Michael McElhatton as Colm Donnelly. On this topic, a lot of characters seem unnecessary. There is a sense that the baby, Fin was included only to add an extra level of peril which the director could not manage himself and, similarly, the dog seems to act only as a convenient and ineffective short cut to the building of tension.
Despite some glaring problems, the film just about holds together in the first half. However, it proceeds to completely lose the plot in the second; everything seems to snowball from there, particularly as the monsters have now been revealed. The tone shifts drastically in a way that is neither organic nor even necessary and the film, at its worse in these points, seems to be telling a joke to which the punchline hasn’t yet been figured out. In sum, the main problem with this film is that it takes itself far too seriously and as a result we are faced with an utterly forgettable horror film which, to speak bluntly, is hardly worth your time.