24 November 2020 The Irish Film & Television Network
If you go down to the woods today – Interview with Irish Film ‘The Hallow’ director Corin Hardy
13 Nov 2015 :
There’s a good chance you might bump into a film crew.
Irish film ‘The Hallow’ is in cinemas on November 13th
IFTN talks to director CORIN HARDY about getting spooked in the wilds of Ireland for ‘The Hallow’.

Will these hippies ever learn?

You move to the wilds of Ireland, to get back in touch with nature, to feel the earth beneath your feet, to sleep under the stars, and smoke your brains out without fear of The Man busting down your door.

Cut to six months later, and it’s ‘The Shining’ with a hand-crafted, hemp-sourced, free-range axe.

That’s pretty much the plot of ‘The Hallow’, Corin Hardy’s debut feature film being a traditional monster mash in the deep, dark woods. Only Hardy and co-writer Felipe Marino (who used his pseudynom Olga Barreneche for the last time here) have higher goals here, as is so very often the case with horror. There’s a message, man. Mainly about not going to live in West Cork, I think.

As he prepares for his reboot of the long-running franchise ‘The Crow’, Corin Hardy took time out to talk to IFTN about arrachtaigh scary and the super Irish Film Board.

IFTN: With horror, it’s never easy to surprise, given that there are already 5,347,897 billion fright night films out there already. So, what is ‘The Hallow’ bringing to this crowded table that’s new...?

Corin Hardy: Well, it’s bringing me, for a start [laughs]. I’m still excited about what horror can do, how this genre is always about surprising the audience in more ways than one. You have to have the traditional look-out-behind-you stuff going on on the surface, but it’s the rug-pull of what a horror story can represent which is just as big a thrill for me.’

There’s a definite 1970s feel about The Hallow - is that the hallowed ground you were aiming for?

‘Absolutely. There was a golden period there where horror moved on from its B-movie roots and just became this wonderful vehicle for smart storytelling. So many of the all-time great horror movies came out of that period. Not that there weren’t incredible horror movies beforehand, but there was something about the blend of traditional horror and this kind of ambitious, politically-charged storytelling of films like Texas Chainsaw, The Evil Dead, Halloween and Rosemary’s Baby that just bent the mind completely.’

Do you think it’s possible to bend minds today still, given just how familiar audiences are with the tricks of the trade when it comes to horror?

‘You only have to look at the work of Michael Haneke and David Lynch, or Gasper Noe, to see that audiences can still have the rug pulled out from underneath them. Not that we were aiming for that particular kind of mind-bending horror here, but you’ve always got the power to surprise, to twist expectations, and that’s a real thrill when you’re putting together what is ostensibly a thrill ride.’

And was it a thrill ride, shooting The Hallow in the wilds of Ireland? Did you ever begin to feel like your protagonist couple, half-convinced your little film is an angel, and half-convinced he’s a little banshee bastard?

‘There were days when the shoot made me think we had a little banshee on our hands, and there were days when we thought we might have a little angel. Luckily, I think we ended up with the latter, given the festival response we’ve had, and the critical response too.’

‘As to the shoot in Ireland, that was perfect. The Irish Film Board was a huge plus to this film, and I knew once they were on-board that we were going to make the film that was playing in my head. We needed somewhere that had the sense of history, of something being alive out there in the ether. Ireland has that in spades. Even in the cities.’

You mentioned the festival response. ‘The Hallow’ made its debut at a midnight screening in Sundance - know before the curtains parted that you had made a good film?

‘By that point, I think we were all fairly lost in the woods, if you’ll pardon the pun. You go so far down the filmmaking process that it is difficult to see the finished film without all the periphery stuff swirling in your head. That day’s shoot, the decisions made on the day, the script discussions, the actors’ input - it all swirls around in your head for days, weeks and months after you finish a film. It probably never goes away. So, to see it with a fresh audience, to get that gut response from people, that was the real test. And that gut response from people was amazing.’

‘That was a good night...’

The reviews have been generally positive too, with ‘The Hallow’ currently sitting pretty with a decent 78% approval rating on rottentomatoes.com. Job well done for you now, or is the box-office important...?

‘The box-office is definitely important, as it is with any film. You want to make sure you don’t lose money for anyone involved, and you want to make everyone who believed in you and in the film proud. The most important part of the process though is just making a film that you are proud of, that you would want to go and see. The rest is business, and it’s necessary, but it would be a very different feeling if you made a bad film that did well than if you made a good film that didn’t quite make anyone a millionaire.’

There’s a chance that your next film might make at least one or two people millionaires, as you take on the old horror franchise ‘The Crow’. This one has been around since Alex Proyas took James O’Barr’s graphic novel to the big screen in 1994. How scared are you about taking this one on?

‘Very scared, but in a good way. I’m a big fan of that movie, and an even bigger fan of James’ original graphic novel, so, it’s all gravy to me. I just want to throw myself completely into ‘The Crow’, and unearth all the good stuff that was there in the 1994 movie and in James’ brilliant writing.’

‘What’s not to love about rebooting a franchise that you love deeply? I’m a very, very lucky man...’

‘The Hallow’ (16) is in Irish cinemas from November 13th – check out the trailer below:

Irish horror ‘The Hallow’ is written and directed by 2011 Screen International Star of Tomorrow Corin Hardy and tells the story of a London-based conservationist who is sent to Ireland to survey an area of ancient forest believed by the superstitious locals to be hallowed ground and unwittingly disturbs a horde of terrifying beings and must fight to protect his family. Windmill Lane was across picture edit on the film, while Ardmore Sound was across sound post.

Co-produced by Fantastic Films with funding from the Irish Film Board, ‘The Hallow’ made its’ world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and earned positive reviews from Screen International and Variety with The Hollywood Reporter writing that the film would have the audience “clamouring for a sequel”. It also screened at this year’s Frightfest in the UK.

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