In British writer-director Corin Hardy‘s debut movie The Hallow, some very bad things happen to a couple played by Joseph Mawle and Bojana Novakovic after they relocate to a forest in rural Ireland with their baby. Equal parts dark fairytale and body horror phantasmagoria, the result has a distinct flavor all its own while also genuflecting in the direction of several horror classics.
Below, Hardy talks about the biggest cinematic influences on his film, which is available to watch on VOD Nov. 5 and debuts in theaters Nov. 6.
1. The Fly (1986)
CORIN HARDY: I always feel really moved by The Fly when I watch it. It’s as traumatic as it is scary and imaginative. It’s got a central performance by Jeff Goldblum that is, I think, Oscar-worthy. Also, just generally, Cronenberg’s commitment to horror and taking it it to the extreme. Whatever the promise of the premise is — it happens. It’s grotesque but it’s also moving. [There’s] the sadness in the relationship [between the characters played by Goldblum and Geena Davis] and having him and her having to cope with what they lose.
2. Alien (1979)
CH: The rendering of a creature has never been bettered, both visually and conceptually. Terrifying. It’s to do with body horror again, and the fears of having something inside you, or losing control. The way Ridley Scott took it totally seriously and made what could have been a B-movie into something that is brilliant. Giger’s design of that alien and the way it feels biological — I look to these films for inspiration because of the passion and attention to detail.
3. The Thing (1982)
CH: Creature design times twenty. The Rob Bottin imagination. The isolated setting. Generally, I just love it. Kurt Russell’s MacReady and this group — the paranoia that’s building up throughout the film. The dog sequence. Dean Cundey’s creeping camerawork and the score. Iconic. Again, it follows through exactly [in the manner] you wish it would and it pays off satisfyingly. In The Hallow I wanted to set something up, and then actually visualize it in a way that would be exciting, and imaginative, and scary, and something that keeps you in the world.
4. Straw Dogs (1971)
CH: Straw Dogs is very much [about] that horror of mistrust in a relationship. I see it as a horror movie, although it’s got this sexual and survival element. I was looking with The Hallow to tell a fairy tale grounded in reality. I used to pitch it as Straw Dogs-meets-Pan’s Labyrinth, to bring these two worlds together: a relationship drama which turns into a survival fairy tale. And then, if people didn’t really get Straw Dogs, I’d say The Strangers. But I’m much more inspired by Straw Dogs. And, again, Dustin Hoffman’s character and the acting in that is so so unique. I showed it to Joe Mawle. If you combine Dustin Hoffman in Straw Dogs, Sigourney Weaver in Alien, and Jeff Goldblum in The Fly then you have what I wanted with Adam in The Hallow.
5. Evil Dead II (1987)
CH: Evil Dead II is an overarching inspiration to me. It was a real eye-opening experience seeing such an eclectic and crazy movie that had so many ideas. Every minute something crazy and exciting happens. It’s demonic forces attacking a man, who’s having to lop his arm off with a chainsaw to fight them back, while retaining a book that he has to read aloud to prevent a dimension from opening. It was just super cool. And, also, I’d never seen camerawork like that. It just felt like it was a real rollercoaster ride. When I met (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz director) Edgar Wright, when I was younger, we bonded over our love for Evil Dead II. I will always say that’s my favorite horror movie.
When I was trying to create a weapon for my lead in The Hallow, athough the tone is very different [from Evil Dead II], you still want to create something iconic. And I was like, well, flamethrowers have been done in The Thing and Alien, and chainsaws been done, and what is there? Something that fits the feel of the folk story? And I came across the look of a scythe. I was pleased about that. Then I thought, actually, if it can be a flaming scythe then we’ve got an iconic feel.
You can see the trailer for The Hallow, below.