The Hole in the Ground checks all the boxes for what a horror film should have, except for the box of ‘being scary’

the hole in the ground movie

Writer and director Lee Cronin’s feature film debut “The Hole in the Ground” has everything a horror film should have. It has creaking doors in an old house in the woods, jump scares, spiders, creepy music, wind, an old woman who speaks gibberish, a little boy who says “Mummy”, and, of course, a hole in the ground. What is missing, however, is that creepy factor that the audience should get from a movie like this.

The movie starts off well as it follows Sarah O’Neill (Seána Kerslake), a single mother who has moved to a small town in the Irish countryside with her son Chris (James Quinn Markey). We learn quickly that this was to escape her abusive ex. I wonder if any filmmakers have ever thought to have a woman move just because she wanted to live outside the city, instead of running away from something? Anyway, in this little village where she drives around in a rusty old Range Rover, she comes across an old woman who is creepy. We learn more about her later at a dinner party: one guest tells the story that the woman is crazy because she ran over her own child. Foreshadowing anyone???

The day after they encounter the old woman, or perhaps two days later, Sarah and Chris get into an argument causing him to run into the woods near their home. While chasing him, Sarah hears Chris scream next to a giant sinkhole. But don’t worry audience, because Chris is fine, or is he? As the film progresses, we learn that he isn’t. Or I should say we watch Sarah learn it. As an audience member, we figure it out as soon as they show his character standing next to the sinkhole.

I’ll admit that I’m a bit critical of horror movies. I didn’t like “Hereditary” which everyone else seemed to like. And it is hard to make a good horror film these days because it’s all been done before. So, to give “The Hole in the Ground” some credit, I imagine if I would have taken my girlfriend to see this film she would have been freaked out. She hates spiders and horror films. For me, I found that the “The Hole in the Ground” tries to scare us by including nearly every horror film cliché available. Cronin also tries to let the audience scare themselves by showing a closeup of Kerslake’s face for the majority of the movie, with the action happening off-screen. This is supposed to create suspense and let our imaginations create the fear, but it doesn’t work in this film. Seána Kerslake does her best in what amounts to a mediocre script and a new director still learning his craft. Cronin has the potential to be a good director, he just didn’t quite make it with this film.

If you are a horror film snob like me, I probably would not recommend this film. If you are easily scared or simply want to support Irish filmmaking then go for it.

  • Director: Lee Cronin
  • Written by: Lee Cronin and Stephen Shields
  • Starring: Seána Kerslake, James Quinn Markey
  • Rated: R
  • Running Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
  • Release Date: March 2019

Review by Milo Denison the author of “How to Manage Your Manager” available now.