A brand new horror lands in UK cinemas – and it’s not without merits.

Certificate: 15
Director: Lee Cronin
Cast: Seána Kerslake, James Quinn Markey
Release date: Out now
Reviewer: Matt Edwards

Sarah O’Neill (Seána Kerslake) is a little worried about her young son Chris (James Quinn Markey). They’ve just relocated to a rural area in Ireland and he’s having trouble making friends at school. It’s not long before she starts to question whether there might not be something untoward going on. Something to do with the woods and a story about a local crazy who is thought to have killed her own child. Something to do with the crater-like hole in the woods, out in the dark.

Director Lee Cronin (who co-writes with Stephen Shields) and cinematographer Tom Comerford have made a beautiful-looking film. The Hole In the Ground is a film of expansive forests and worn-down houses. The camera moves slowly and the score (overwhelming and ominous when it is used, courtesy of composer Stephen McKeon) is used sparingly, meaning there’s plenty of cold silence to go with the chill-inducing imagery.

Guiding The Hole In The Ground narratively is an analogy about the lasting damage of violent relationships and the painful, difficult process of rebuilding lives after they’ve ended. The family dynamic is the heart of the film, and the lead performance from Kerslake in particular is tremendous. This is a polished horror film. It looks good, it has a few great effects (particularly towards the end) and it’s able to use simplicity and craftsmanship to create an atmosphere. What it does, it does well. What it doesn’t do is bring much new to the screen or distinguish itself from recent films like The Hallow and The Ritual. Over-familiarity greys out the tension, and even the brief 90-minute runtime feels too long.

If there hadn’t been so much quality on display in The Hole In The Ground, it wouldn’t feel like a missed opportunity. There’s real craft at work here and plenty of promise to mark the team behind the film as people to watch out for, but it’s too full of the seen-it-before to be particularly effective or memorable.