It does tick a lot of the horror film clichés with the blaring ominous string music, slamming doors and creaky floorboards, but gradually becomes eerier because of the paranoia Sarah is feeling as she comes to believe that her son has been body-snatched when she notices subtle changes in his behaviour. There is a lingering uncertainty throughout that she could be mentally ill, except I couldn’t help but trust her instinct anyway which made it all the more unsettling as she’s unable to get anyone on her side. Kerslake is a likeable protagonist and manages to balance a playfulness with sincerity and her growing fears. Markey also gives a good performance and doesn’t overstate the changes in his character.
However, the film sometimes feels slow paced and I was hoping another element was going to come into play in the narrative; it’s heavily implied that Sarah has comes out of an abusive relationship with Chris’s father and that she’s moved to get away from him. It seemed like this could have been a bigger part of the story that was never fulfilled, although it could be argued that Chris’s behaviour – acting like an angel before turning aggressive – mirrors that of abusive relationships, thereby making history repeat itself for Sarah.
Overall, although it’s sometimes slow paced, I would recommend ‘The Hole in the Ground’ as I feel that the third act makes it worth the patience. Despite subscribing to a lot of horror movie gimmicks, there’s a lot to like in it from the actors to the earthy colour palette. There was a scene near the end involving claustrophobic tunnels that has got to be enough to put anyone over the edge and genuinely made me feel panicked. The film also gets extra points for not going for an obvious “plot twist” that would have been incredibly tempting and cheap, but instead opting to show the aftermath of Sarah’s traumatic experience.