12 March 2019
THE HOLE IN THE GROUND drags up the doubt and unease subconsciously stashed away in the back of all our minds. Set in rural Ireland, single mother Sarah (Seána Kerslake) leaves an abusive relationship and moves her son Chris (James Quinn Markey) to a secluded new home in search of a fresh start. A playful and loving relationship between mother and son is established. However, one night after a disagreement Chris runs off into the forest at the back of their house and Sarah goes in after him. While trying to find him, Sarah comes across a disturbingly large and shockingly ominous sink hole. She finds Chris and returns home, but nothing is quite the same.
When returning home one day Sarah and Chris are startled by their mysterious neighbour, Mrs Brady (Kati Outinen). The old woman clocks Chris and begins creeping towards him muttering "he's not your son". The tension builds and the woman gets closer until violently smashing her head against the car window and screaming. Understandably unnerved, Sarah begins to question her son's identity and sets up a camera in his room in a bid to discover the truth. Shocked by what she sees, Sarah shows she will stop at nothing until she brings home her boy.
Cronin creates a picturesque rural Ireland with wide bird's-eye views of the forest and surrounding landscapes. He teases the audience by gradually creating doubt around Chris's true identity. The use of sound creates unsettling tension throughout with conventional squeaky floors and windy howls. The film takes a sinister turn at a school talent show by having the class of young children repeat the harrowing lyrics of traditional folk song The Rattlin' Bog - "Well in the bog there was a hole, a rare hole and a rattlin' hole" - building the pace of the song until Sarah is at breaking point.
The sinister sinkhole mocks the challenges Sarah faces as she tackles her new life as a single mother. Her mental and physical strength is now being tested when the thing she cares for most in the world - her son - is threatened and compromised. Her resilience as a mother is tested as she battles against being dragged back into the all-too-familiar pit of despair, fearful that she has lost her son to whatever lurks at the bottom of sink hole.
Seána Kerslake is full of raw emotion as Sarah in a truly convincing performance and James Quinn Markey's disturbing and glossy-eyed Chris sends chills down the spine. This deliciously unnerving Irish horror will have you sinking into your seat.
Read our interview with Lee Cronin and Seána Kerslake here.
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