Toronto After Dark Report: The Hallow

Who’s in it: Joseph Mawle, Bojana Novakovic, Michael Smiley

Who’s behind it: Written and directed by Corin Hardy, co-written by Felipe Marino

Who’ll love it: Anyone with a taste for invasive creature features and the horrors of isolation.

What it’s about: Hoping to spend some quality time studying trees, conservationist Adam (Joseph Mawle) moves with his wife Clare (Bojana Novakovic) and their newborn baby to the Irish countryside. Before long, a neighbour stops by to inform them that they are in grave danger, as their property is haunted by evil spirits. More interested in science than superstition, Adam ignores the warnings. However, his idyllic undertaking soon turns ominous when he discovers a rotting deer covered in mysterious black slime. Upon closer study, this reveals itself to be a “zombie fungus” with the power to take over the body of its host. Needless to say, Adam’s research gets incredibly unpleasant.

Why you should see it: The feature directorial debut of former effects artist Corin Hardy—who has since been hired to direct a remake of The CrowThe Hallow makes its creator’s love of horror readily apparent. Loaded with references to genre staples from the ’70s and ’80s (Alien, The Evil Dead, Straw Dogs, The Thing, assorted David Cronenberg), this is a well-crafted, if undeniably conventional effort… for its first two thirds. If you hang in there until the end, you will be rewarded with a feast of bizarre ideas and imagery that makes the restraint of the preceding hour entirely understandable. To sweeten the deal, Hardy also offers some well-intentioned conservationist commentary, but don’t expect to leave the theatre with any lingering affection for forests.

 When you can see it: Thursday, October 15 at 9:45pm at Scotiabank Theatre; Saturday, October 17 at 11:59pm (Scotiabank). Tickets available here.

Check out the trailer and the poster below.