The Hole in the Ground (2019) – Film Review
Director: Lee Cronin
Cast: Seána Kerslake, James Quinn Markey, Simone Kirby
by Sarah Morgan
Fledgling directors opting to make a horror movie as their debut is becoming a bit of a cliché. However, the fact that they can be shot on a low budget but still be effective makes them an attractive and relatively risk-free project to set up.
The latest film-maker to benefit from the idea is Lee Cronin, the Irish auteur whose previous work includes Ghost Train, an award-winning short. The Hole in the Ground, his first feature, has also picked up a few trophies, including Best Film at this year’s Bilbao Fantasy Film Festival.
Seána Kerslake heads the cast as Sarah O’Neill, a single mother who, along with her young son Chris, moves to a remote house to escape from her past life.
Chris is a sensitive boy who is struggling to deal with the change in their circumstances, and a startling encounter with the disturbed elderly lady next door does little to ease his nerves – and Sarah isn’t exactly thrilled by it either.
But this is just the start of the duo’s troubles. The lad later goes missing, and while looking for him, Sarah discovers a mysterious, ominous sinkhole in the nearby woods. Eventually Chris returns home of his own accord, and although he looks and sounds like Sarah’s son, some strange behaviours make her wonder if the boy now in her care isn’t the one who went away…
Kerslake – whose previous best-known role came in the Irish comedy-drama series Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope – is convincing as the mother who may be raising a demon, while veteran actor James Cosmo pops up in little more than a cameo as Des Brady, husband of the disturbed neighbour who has an interesting cautionary tale to tell.
But it’s young James Quinn Markey who dominates proceedings. You may have already caught this wonderful child actor in Vikings and Mother’s Day, but he really shines here. Before Chris’ disappearance, he’s a sweet if troubled boy, but afterwards, he adds incredible depth, convincing the viewer the lad may not be all he seems.
The film itself is otherwise your typical low-budget chiller. It manages to make the most of its meagre finances, but doesn’t stand out from the crowd, although Cronin deserves some credit for creating a quietly threatening atmosphere.
Special features are scarce but include a brief behind-the-scenes documentary.
‘The Hole in the Ground’ is released on Blu-ray by Vertigo