There have been significant improvements made to the horror movie genre over the years. Whereas horrors flicks used to feature about an hour of boring exposition and cheesy jump scares followed by 20 minutes or so of genuine action, films like “The Quiet Place” and “Jeepers Creepers” have revolutionized the genre by offering solid thrills throughout.
Seána Kerslake plays a single mother named Sarah who moves with her young son Chris (James Quinn Markey) to a new home in the Irish countryside, next to a forest that hides an enormous sinkhole. One night, Chris mysteriously vanishes only to later reappear unharmed and unchanged. But as his behavior grows increasingly disturbing, Sarah begins to fear that the boy who has returned may not be her son at all.
The problem with “The Hole in the Ground” is that the creepy kid does not really do anything creepy enough until that aforementioned grand finale—during which, by the way, he is more strong than scary. There is an intriguing scene in which Chris and his classmates sing the Irish folksong “Rattlin Blog” but that is too little to truly terrify us or convince us that the boy has taken on some sort of evil presence.
What “The Hole in the Ground” does do well though is present an eerie atmosphere in which all of these non-events play out. From the very beginning of the movie, a journey down a long and winding road followed by an upside-down image of a gloomy Irish countryside causes us to become a bit unsettled. As time goes on, Cronin continues to unnerve us with the look of his picture. But the story itself never quite catches up to the cinematography.
Kerslake and Markey do well in their roles as mother and son, respectively, but they are not given enough material with which to work. You cannot help but think Markey, with his deadpan look, could have excelled should he have been provided with a few authentically alarming actions to bring into his performance. However, that is a hole that will sadly remain empty and unfilled.