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Film / The Hallow

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The Hallow (originally titled The Woods) is a 2015 horror film directed by Corin Hardy, written by Hardy and Felipe Marino, and starring Joseph Mawle, Bojana Novakovic, Michael McElhatton, and Michael Smiley.

Adam Hitchens (Mawle), a British conservationalist, moves his wife Clare (Novakovic) and their infant son into a remote mill house in Ireland so he can continue his work. Ignoring the warnings of the local townsfolk, in particular intimidating farmer Colm Donnelly (McElhatton), the family soon find themselves encountering strange goings-on; ripped-apart deer, their dog's erratic behavior, and strangest of all, a mysterious black fungus slowly growing everywhere...

This film provides examples of:

  • Ambiguous Time Period: The radio voice over at the beginning references the Greek debt crisis implying that the movie is set in The New '10s. However, they only cellphone that appear on screen is a clam-shell flip-phone and Adam's old style computer would place it closer to the Turn of the Millennium. And on top of that every single car is considerably older than that.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Adam's ravings about Finn being a changeling appear to be paranoid delusions from the fungus infecting his mind, and the Axe-Crazy way he pursues Clare and "Finn" doesn't help his case. He turns out to be completely right, however.
    • On the same note, After Clare escapes from the mutated and disoriented Adam, he calms down and smashes out the light before picking up a scythe, implying he has fully succumbed to the fungus and is about to continue chasing his wife and child with intent to kill. Instead, he's regained his senses and is going to rescue his real son from the Hallow.
  • Big Fancy House: The mill house is no mansion, but it's old and rustic with plenty of charm.
  • Body Horror: Anyone who comes into contact with the fungus starts to go through this, particularly Adam.
    • The scene at the end of the movie where the sun causes the changeling baby to 'bloom' is unpleasant to watch.
  • Botanical Abomination: Well, Fungal Abomination, perhaps.
  • Cassandra Truth: Colm Donnelly's warnings are completely founded, but they're delivered in such a hostile and antagonistic manner that when things take a turn for the worst Adam is convinced Colm is the one behind everything.
    • Despite it seeming as if Adam has lost his mind to the fungus and is about to kill his infant son, he is entirely correct that Finn was actually a Hallow doppelganger, and Adam even recovers the real Finn in the climax.
  • Changeling Tale: After studying the book Donnely gave them, Adam comes to suspect that the Hallow's plan is to steal his son Finn and replace him with a changeling. He is right, and manages to thwart their plan.
  • Cold Iron: The Hallow won't come close to it as it burns them as shown by Adam.
  • Doing In the Wizard: The movie's premise is that The Fair Folk are actually people mutated by a certain fungus which not only warps their bodies but takes control of their minds.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: The Hitchens' dog, Iggy, is well-aware of what's wrong.
  • Eye Scream: the creatures have branch-like fingers they use to poke in the eye of Adam through the keyhole
  • The Fair Folk: A modern take on why it is not wise to trespass in their territory.
  • Fighting from the Inside: After being infected, Adam resists The Hallow and fights them, while making similar roars as them, in order to get Finn back.
  • Folk Horror: A textbook example, featuring The Fair Folk in a horror context.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Near the beginning, Adam talks about a fungus that infects and spreads through ants, turning them into automatons. The Hallow are "born" in a similar way.
    • The book contains pictures of changelings.
    • And, more tellingly, there's a picture in the book where one of The Hallow is embracing a woman and a baby. Which is Adam's ultimate fate.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Adam goes through hell to protect his son and ultimately dies after realizing he succeeded.
  • Hope Spot: When Claire reaches the well-lit Donnelly farm the audience believes that she and Finn are finally safe. Donnelly turns them away at gun point because he doesn't dare to face the Hallow and he believes the creatures will follow them to his house.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Claire to Adam, after he starts claiming that their son is really a changeling.
  • Improbable Infant Survival: Played Straight in the main story, but Averted in the backstory as shown by Cora.
  • Jump Scare: Quite a few. The movie even ends on one, courtesy of Cora.
  • Mama Bear: Claire goes to great lengths to make sure her son is safe.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: While the movie sometimes is Doing In the Wizard, a few things are left without proper explanation, such as the Hallow seeming to strategically rot wood at an accelerated pace; as well as their weakness to iron, and most of the Changeling stuff, neither of which are readily explained by the fungus.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Averted. The monster design and effects are done with such excellence that seeing them makes their menace more effective, and makes an extended sequence near the end in which they do not appear far less compelling.
  • Our Fairies Are Different: They are people mutated by a fungus that transforms them into monsters and controls their minds, making them part of a sort of hive mind.
  • Papa Wolf: After Adam realizes he's becoming one of the Hallow, his primary goal is keeping his son and wife safe. Ultimately he dies saving his son and getting his wife to abandon the changeling.
  • Police Are Useless: The police who come to investigate the broken window. While Garda Davey can't be faulted for not considering the Hallow as possible suspects, he comes up with a ridiculous theory so they don't have to investigate a legitimate suspect.
  • Skeptic No Longer: Adam, after actually seeing the forest creatures.
  • Supernatural-Proof Father: Downplayed at the beginning when Adam is convinced that Colm Donnelly is behind most of the mysterious occurrences; but Claire doesn't seem any more inclined to believe in The Fair Folk than he is and she doesn't even open the book about them that Colm brought. When she accepts that The Hallow are real and tells Adam so, he doesn't disagree and they all run for the car. Later it gets Inverted, when Adam insists that the baby Claire is holding is really a changeling and she doesn't believe him with good reason. He turns out to be right.
  • Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: The Hallow are described like this, almost word for word.
  • Weakened by the Light: The creatures are mainly nocturnal, but any source of light will repel them.