Hallowed ground, part 2

Corin Hardy on The Hallow, creating fear and adapting The Crow.

by Luke Shaw

Joseph Mawle in The Hallow
Joseph Mawle in The Hallow

Previously, Corin spoke about the decision to use practical effects in The Hallow, and the difficulties and challenges that these presented. He also touched on the way he created rule and reason as a meas of keeping the film true to its story, and to itself. Little is out of place, and none of the scares feel pointless or egregious.

One of the standout moments the film involves an arm reaching through into the attic, as a character desperately tries to keep it out. It’s heavily reminiscent of The Thing, or perhaps one of the more practical effects shots from The Mist. I asked if there had been any scenes were in his mind before the story was written, or if it was vice versa.

"I don’t want to break it down to a formula, but I did want a number of progressive set pieces that would keep people on the edge of their seat, and tie in with the story and what scares them," he says. "But I didn’t want to do any random scares, you can get away with it in a supernatural movie about a ghost girl, but not here.

A family night out
A family night out

"There is a root to the story though. I had an experience one night when I was driving home. I live in East Sussex and I was in my car, driving through these wooded lanes as the sun was going down. It wasn’t scary, I really love that environment, but I had got a bit lost in an area I didn’t really know, and the maps don’t work out there, and I was low on fuel. So I thought, what would happen if I run out of fuel by this forest, and the sun went down, and I had a baby - which I didn’t at the time - and then what if there was something in the woods, and it was starting to get closer, and then I went to get a torch out of the boot, and got locked in, and then I heard whatever it was from the woods trying to get in the car?

"That became an idea for a weird short film, about a man with a baby in the back of his car, and that sequence was a part of the original idea that went into the creation of The Hallow. You have these cool sequences, but if they don’t fit you have to eschew them. The hand and the attic was part of not wanting to show too much, you can reveal things in stages, instead of shooting out everything in one load. That sounds, er..." He laughs.

But given the way the effects look, the association isn’t a stretch. They look very natural, like rot and weeds, and they tap into real primal fears. I ask if that was something he chose to reinforce through a lack of technology in the film.

"Well, I’m not a technological person. I don’t like spending too much time with tech, even though my life dictates me spending a lot of time staring at computers. I’d rather strip away stuff like that than show it. You called the fears primal, and that’s a good term. They boil down to a handful of things: losing control of yourself, not being able to help your loved ones, the look of certain things - like humans beings gone wrong. These things are almost universal, so I tried to build them into the story, in a way that made sense."

It works too, as one of the of the ideas touched on is the parasitic fungus, better known as Cordyceps, and we both agree that fungus is crazy.

"Crazy, but it’s real you know. And we know very little about fungus. We know lots about plants and animals, but fungus is an unknown entity. It can’t think, and it straddles a weird line."

I also mention that the idea to use cordyceps turns up in one of 2013’s biggest games, The Last Of Us.

Brandon Lee as The Crow
Brandon Lee as The Crow

"Yeah, The Last of Us came out well into the process of us making The Hallow. It’s the most amazing game, and when I played it I thought that it was almost like a spiritual sequel to The Hallow."

At this point, Corin’s assistant comes over to let us know that our time is nearly up, so I decided to jump in and ask him about his upcoming adaptation of The Crow, and how he landed the job of directing a remake of such a cult classic.

"Of course! I can say that I’m hugely honoured and excited to be making it, and that it’s going to be heavily influenced by the graphic novel, which I was obsessed with when I was at art school. I was 17, and identified with its tone and themes, and its romantic gothic nature. It’s a dream come true to be making it and I will do my utmost to do it justice.

"As for how I got it the job, part of it was to do with the practical effects in the rough cut, but also we had conversations. I can only do things I'm passionate about, I can’t lie, and I am passionate about about The Crow, so I conveyed that. I’m very lucky to be making it."

We muse on how there’s a trend now of small directors proving themselves on small projects before being lifted by Hollywood to do larger projects, like Gareth Edwards proving himself with Monsters before being given the keys to Godzilla. Sadly, our time is up and Corin has to take his leave. Before he goes we chat about the 2000AD documentary, which he’s eager to see. It’s no surprise, as Corin is set to be another in a recent line of British directors to transfer into Hollywood off the back of a creative, unique independent project, much like the writers and artists of 2000AD left for a chance to tackle the big time in America. Similarly to those writers, Corin has produced a unique and vital horror film with The Hallow, and The Crow will definitely be something to keep a weather eye on.

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