Facing motherhood alone is a daunting experience that not everyone can relate to; myself included. However, it’s a fear that many women have before even potentially dealing with it because it seems that at that point in your life you are solely responsible for a life you created and must do everything to protect them. Director Lee Cronin’s The Hole in the Ground may be a horror film, but at the core, it is a deep examination of how all those nightmares about your parenting abilities and how your child will turn out could play out.
Sarah and her young son Chris have moved to a rural area to escape a past that subtly haunts them. After an argument one evening, Chris runs off into the vast woods behind their house leaving Sarah to find him. Whilst searching she discovers a large crater buried deep within the woodland that plunges with an ominous atmosphere. Sarah arrives back at home to find Chris is safe, but as the days pass it seems that something about her son has changed.
The opening sequence of The Hole in the Ground sets the tone and pace for the entirety of what the audience is about to see; it’s chilling and unsettling, and with aerial shots of the landscape around the two, shows just how isolated they are from their surroundings. The cinematography throughout the film is something to pick up on; every scene is exceptionally crisp and the points of view provided to the audience really help them to understand the emotions that our protagonist Sarah is typically experiencing. There are two particular scenes in the woods; the first shows just how vast the woods are and how Sarah feels completely lost and overwhelmed when she’s inside them. The second has a lot of Blair Witch vibes and encloses on the senses of feeling dread and terror.
Tension is gradually built throughout and doesn’t aim to shock the audience with cheap jump scares and quick frights. The acting from James Quinn Markey as Chris is really incredible, and he provides the audience with a nostalgic throwback feeling to Harvey Spencer Stephen’s portrayal of Damien in The Omen. He is consistently convincing and knows just how to make the hairs on an adults neck raise with the glimpse of an eye. Seána Kerslake gives the audience another fantastic portrayal and really helps us to resonate with her on many levels; she made me understand the highs of being a mother and watching the love of her life grow into someone beautiful, and she also made me understand the lows of dealing with parenthood alone, trying to sustain themselves and wondering if her son is who he is supposed to be or she is slowly losing her mind.
As The Hole in the Ground progresses we begin to understand that much like in the very popular The Babadook, we may see monsters but we’ll never fully understand whether or not they’re a psychological aspect or something more pertainable. The last act really begins to make the audience dig their nails into the seat as we’re presented with claustrophobic sequences, upsetting realisations and a fighting panic to see a happy ending for the family of two. It’s this emotional connection that keeps us rooting for an ending that doesn’t leave us feeling miserable.
Although not quite as well executed as The Badadook was, The Hole in the Ground is another attempt at giving the audience a film that has more substance than purely just scares. The Hole in the Ground is psychologically unsettling and shows that single parenting is more terrifying than any monster.
Directed by: Lee Cronin
Cast: Seána Kerslake, James Quinn Markey, Simone Kirby