Impressively realised and clearly punching above its weight in terms of budget The Hole in the Ground, despite its flaws, is a solid addition to the Irish cinematic landscape and to the horror genre as a…whole.
Smart and stylish, the first act is full of suggestion and an ominous sense of suspense, thanks in no small part to the taut score by Stephen McKeon. Then comes the emotionally autumnal colour palette, claustrophobically framed close-ups and some sweeping aerial tracking shots (a la Stanley Kubrick’s epic opening from The Shining), all of which tell you two things pretty quickly: 1) this is a well made film and 2) something bad is going to happen.
Enter the eponymous, if somewhat incongruous, Hole in the Ground. Without giving away any plot spoilers, suffice it to say that the film would have worked perfectly well, nay even better, without the Hole. It descends into generic tropes which are, pardon the pun, beneath it. Not to mention some glaring logical incongruities which only serve to frustrate and dissociate.
After establishing such suspense and intrigue, the art of not-seeing, of not-knowing, would have redoubled the sinister impact it had worked so hard to establish and was valiantly attempting to deliver. However, like a tightly wound yo-yo, after all the excitement and preparation, the craftful building of tension, it unravels to reveal nothing at the end of the string but a somewhat silly and disappointing toy.
Neatly written and sharply acted – with a compelling lead from Seána Kerslake and an amazing piece of casting in the Irish-Hayley-Joel-Osmont, James Quinn Markey – The Hole in the Ground maybe a victim of its own genre; necessitating basic scares rather than sticking to its preternatural guns. The result: a worthy watch but not greater than the sum of its parts.