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The Hallow (Blu-ray Review)

HallowVividly atmospheric and brimming with tension, the twisted modern fairy tale The Hallow makes its Blu-ray and DVD debut April 5th, 2016 from Scream Factory, in conjunction with IFC Midnight. Wonderfully horrifying, this compelling and creepy film comes loaded with bonus features, including audio commentary with director Corin Hardy, a Surviving the Fairytale: The Making of The Hallow documentary, three behind-the-scenes vignettes, creature concept art, storyboard and sketchbook galleries, and more! Fans can pre-order their copies now by visiting ShoutFactory.com.  Starring Joseph Mawle (The Awakening, Game of Thrones) and Bojana Novakovic (Devil, Drag Me to Hell), The Hallowmarks acclaimed visual stylist Corin Hardy’s feature directorial debut, displaying a technical elegance, eye-catching practical effects, and sophisticated approach to the macabre in this modern and disquieting horror fable. 

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When a London-based conservationist is sent to Ireland with his wife and infant child to survey an area of forest believed to be hallowed ground by superstitious locals, his actions unwittingly disturb a horde of demonic creatures who prey upon the lost. Alone and deep within the darkness of the remote wilderness, he must now fight back to protect his family against the ancient forces’ relentless attacks.

At its heart, The Hallow wants to be a very careful, patient mythological creature feature.  Ultimately it takes itself way too seriously and moves like a slug.  There’s light dialogue and too much quiet going on.  That’s not to say this film is terrible, very far from that.  For as planned, researched and thought out as the film is, it comes across as pretty hollow and empty.

That’s not to say there aren’t great takeaways from this.  The film looks gorgeous and has some terrific effects work.  It cares about what its doing (to a point where it may be overthinking too much at times).  Its coupled with some good but not great performances.  Looking ahead to the bonus features, director Corin Hardy looks like he wants so badly to be the next Guillermo del Toro.  Watching his interviews come across as some sort of copy of his thoughts, ideas and stylings.  So, I guess this movie could be sorta B-level del Toro at best.

I wanted to like this film more than I did.  Its got a lot of great elements to it and some talent that is budding through the frames.  Ultimately it was a bit too slow for me, and I’m someone who enjoys a really good slow burn horror film.  I’ll take this and move on, but with an eye to see what may be in store next for director Corin Hardy…maybe something with a little more oompf to it.

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail:  The Hallow provides a nice deep, detailed and sharp picture.  The image feels rich and full.  Its a very dark film, but you it still casts a very defined looking image.  Looking at the wood on trees, you can see plenty of texture as well as on clothing and other surfaces.

Depth:  Depth is pretty decent here.  Spacing is good and movements are smooth.

Black Levels:  Blacks are very deep and rich.  Rather than lose a lot of detail, it just moreso helps to define the image.  No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are natural and very rustic in appearance.  Greens are beautiful and have a nice bold flavor to them.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones look mostly cooler and maintain a consistent appearance throughout the duration of the film.  Facial details like make-up, stubble, wrinkles and freckles come through quite nicely.

Noise/Artifacts:  Clean.

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Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics:  This 5.1 mix is a very crisp and precise one.  Sound are well rounded and plenty defined.  Its almost like a quiet warrior, keeping a peaceful feel and attacking at the right moments.  And for a slow burning horror film its just what you want.

Low Frequency Extension:  The subwoofer provides some jump hit in the score as well as some rustling and bustling of the creatures in the woods.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Its a very front heavy track, with the rear speakers primarily building and presenting ambiance.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is kept to a nice quaint, and pleasant level.  Its clear and crisp.

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Extras Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-0Dexter-0

The Hallow comes with a reversible cover featuring an alternate poster design.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Corin Hardy

Surviving The Fairytale: Making The Hallow (HD, 50:42) – A nice lengthy account of the film’s production featuring cast and crew interviews and behind the scenes and rehearsal footage.  Inspirations are discussed, the psychology and movements of the creatures and the work on the effects.

Behind The Scenes: The Story (HD, 2:39) – A brief piece with the director on his inspirations for the creatures and mythology for the film.  Featured in the main Making Of feature.

Behind The Scenes: Influence (HD, 2:05) – The director talks about how everything from King Kong and Ray Harryhausen to Evil Dead and The Fly inspired him.  Featured in the main Making Of feature.

Behind The Scenes: Practical FX (HD, 2:20) – Colin Hardy talks about his love of practical effects and using them in the film.

Director’s Storyboards (HD, 1:39) 

The Book of Invasions: Original Illustrations (HD, 2:50)

Director’s Sketchbook (HD, 3:19) 

Creature Concepts (HD, :44) – More drawings

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:01) 

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Summary Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dex-1Dexter-0

The Hallow has its heart in the right places, but it just can’t find itself on a pace that works and keeps it mostly invigorating.  Its a bit too quiet.  This Blu-ray however, has things in the right places with its terrific video and audio presentations.  Its got a really good Making Of, but I don’t know why little pieces of it are repeated and look like they’re more bonus features.  Kind of a headscratcher there.  If you’re a fan, then pick this Blu-ray up as its pretty satisfying.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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