creepy kids

[Movie Review] The Hole in the Ground (2019) ★★★★☆

Sarah covered in dirt and suspicious in The Hole in the Ground 2019

The Hole in the Ground is a dark fairytale full of ominous atmosphere suspense and dread.

The Hole in the Ground is a supernatural psychological horror film that feels like a dark fairytale and is shot in an intimate way to create an unsettling atmosphere. It’s a small story with only a few characters that nevertheless, or because of it, is very powerful and impressive. It’s a mystery and a drama and a mother’s ordeal with a strange child that takes on a very disturbing tale. The horror is subtle, the setting is almost magical rural and the end is an absolute folklore delight. The Hole in the Ground will therefore be appreciated by those who love intimate little stories that create a terrifying atmosphere with few means.


Sarah O’Neill moves with her son Chris to the countryside of Ireland, without Chris’ father. She rents a house nearby a big forest and she soon discovers a big hole in the middle of the woods. When one night Chris disappears, she goes on a frantic search only to find him safe and sound as if nothing has happened. 

But something is not right with Chris. He seems somehow different. He’s not afraid anymore or a loner, and it seems Chris is doing better at school. Until an old neighbor Noreen Brady tells Sarah a story about the ancient local folklore and tells her Chris is not her son. Noreen also has lost her son many years ago and slowly Sarah starts to doubt if Chris is really her son. 

Why you should watch it

The Hole in the Ground plays out as a psychological mystery with some creepy horror elements, but it feels like a dark fairytale. The subtle horror is in great balance with the dramatic background of Sarah and Chris and the mystery that unfolds. Although nothing much happens, and the unraveling is slow, it doesn’t really feel like a slow-paced film. This is due to the psychological horror that is the focus of the story. It’s about the distress of a mother, who suffers from her own traumas, has to take care of a troubled child and is on the run for her ex-husband.

Psychologically there is a lot going on and that intensifies the real-life horror but also connects in a great way with the supernatural horror. The supernatural horror is subtle, but it creeps into the house and under your skin. It creates a highly disturbing and eerie feeling of unease that gets bigger and bigger up till the point it’s undeniable, and maybe too late.

Although the theme of the film is the fear of losing a child. Whether that is to an abusive husband, or to a trauma that changes the personality of the child, or in this case due to a supernatural force. It’s also the fear of not being able to keep your child safe, and Sarah does everything in her power to keep him safe, to find him and in order to do that she has to rely on her own motherly instincts instead of what other people might say.

The film is even more intriguing, while Sarah isn’t hysterical, but always tries to keep rational and calm, although some moments could drive a person insane. She is strong willed and determined and brave, a mother and a woman who also is a likable and believable character. It makes the psychological part of the film all the more powerful, but the supernatural events more scary. 

The cinematography is gorgeous and some horror shots are original and create a highly unsettling feeling. The shots of the forest are beautifully serene and idyllic, but at the same time there’s also something ancient and ominous about it. Increased by the many folktales. The motif of the many mirrors, real ones or natural reflections in water, are symbolically enhancing the folktale events. But it also creates a small focus, an enlarged but private perspective, an impression of something bigger. 

The focus is based on show don’t tell, and there are few conversations. But the conversations that do take place are functional to the story. The tale itself, just like Sarah therefore stays intimate and introvert, but also intense. That manifests itself in the final scenes that are claustrophobic and only focuses on Sarah finding Chris and the folktale that has caused it all. It’s terrifying, psychologically as well as what she encounters. 

My favorite part

When Sarah starts to doubt if Chris is really her son or an imposter, she secretly spies on him through the crack under the door. It increases the intimate feel of the film in an even more literal way, by showing us only part of the floor of Chris’ room without actually seeing what is happening. That alone results in a very tensed and creepy atmosphere but the film takes it a step further to really remind us that we are watching a horror. 

The ending was a big surprise as well and gave another fresh spin on the changeling folklore. The final scenes were very well executed and explained the gruesome death that took place a bit earlier. A death that was also very original and highly disturbing. 


Rating: ★★★★☆

Scare factor: ★★★☆☆

Drama factor: ★★★★☆

Gruesome factor: ★★★☆☆

Originality factor: ★★★★★

Cast and crew

The Hole in the Ground is directed and written by Lee Cronin and cowritten by Stephen Shields. It stars Seána Kerslake (Sarah O’Neill), James Quinn Markey (Chris O’Neill), James Cosmo (Des Brady), Kati Outinen (Noreen Brady), Simone Kirby (Louise Caul), Steve Wall (Rob (Caul) and Eoin Macken (Jay Caul).

Duration: 90 minutes. Music by: Stephen McKeon. Cinematography: Tom Comerford. Edited by: Colin Campbell. Produced by: Conor Barry, John Keville. Production company: Savage Productions, Wrong Men North, Metrol Technology, Head Gear Films, Bankside Films. Distributed by: A24, Wildcard Distribution, Vertigo.

Check the trailer below

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