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Springboard: How ‘The Hallow’ Director Corin Hardy Made An Authentic Monster Movie

Springboard: How 'The Hallow' Director Corin Hardy Made An Authentic Monster Movie

READ MORE: Why ‘The Hallow’ Director Corin Hardy Loves Practical Effects and is Rebooting ‘The Crow’

Indiewire’s Springboard column profiles up-and-comers in the film industry worthy of your attention.
Corin Hardy’s chilling debut feature “The Hallow” is a supernatural horror film set deep in the wild Irish woods. The story centers around a family who moves into a new house, dismissing warnings from their neighbors about things that go bump in the night as mere superstition. They quickly learn, however, that unwelcoming neighbors are the least of their worries, as an evil presence emerges from the woods to drive them away.
“The Hallow” is a fantasy story rooted in reality, and Hardy used real locations and drew from real Irish folklore to set this haunting story in a world recognizable to our own. Stylistically, the movie has elements of a haunted house film, a creature feature and a pure Hitchcockian suspense story; it throws the viewer in quickly and just keeps building, remaining deeply scary to the end.

Because of his lifelong fascination with monster makeup, Hardy created the creatures using almost entirely practical effects, making the film stand out in the CGI-heavy horror landscape. He has also gotten attention as the director of the upcoming reboot of “The Crow,” a property of which he is a devoted fan. The film is schedule to begin shooting in 2016.

“The Hallow” is now playing in select theaters and on VOD. Read more from Hardy below. 
I set out to non-pretentiously make the most beautiful horror movie I could, so I found this cinematographer that had this really elegant style, an almost painterly style to his work, Martijn van Broekhuizen, a Dutch DoP. Nick Emerson, the editor, hadn’t done a horror movie but had done “Starred Up,” which is a really intense prison drama that you could say is almost a horror movie, there’s a lot of tension in it. You are wanting tension to be prevalent in the movie even without scares or jump scares — just a feel.

Every single day you’re compromising really. Because you’re struggling to make a movie with certain quality, I wanted it to be cinematic, I wanted the acting to be great, I wanted the effects to pay off, I wanted everything to be cohesive. And then you go into pre-production and you’re wrestling to get all your visions to be possible on a budget and on a tight schedule. When you’re shooting, I think if you go for a difficult challenge you’re going to come out with something more exciting as a result, particularly if you do things for real. In reality, in locations with real effects, I love things going wrong and making something out of that because it just happens.

With a horror movie you’re continually trying to raise the stakes and sustain it. There’s different ways of doing that. In this kind of movie I wanted to satisfy the idea that — depending on how much you know going in — I wanted to make something based on fairy mythology that’s grounded in reality but that would pay off with seeing some creatures. There’s films that are really disappointing because you know what they couldn’t really afford, the reveal is a disappointment.

These days it might be easier to say, “Do it in post,” and work it out later, but I grew up on watching practical effects movies. Movies with real makeup, real skill, real brilliant imaginative technical minds. People like Rick Baker and Rob Bottin and Dick Smith and Stan Winston, I wanted to be those monster makers when I was a kid. I read Gorezone and Fangoria and I loved this idea of creating a fantastic world and being able to put it into ours. So when I got the chance to make the film, I didn’t want to do CG fairies — you just don’t get connected as well. You can’t be as scared of them. So although there’s limitations, I tried to ground it all in practical effects and then enhance and augment and manipulate and create an illusion using visual effects and CGI. 
We had characters puppeteering their own limbs, so they’d have puppet limbs and we’d paint out their own arms and then we’d build animatronic faces on the tops of their heads. We tried to create something that you can achieve in camera with humans bringing the characters to life, and then adding a layer of makeup and animatronics and puppet limbs, and then another layer of CGI compositing, erasing some things, erasing parts of the human, stretching the limbs. There’s a lot of effects in the film and each one has a number of practical techniques going on at the same time.

I auditioned about 100 performers and movement artists. I auditioned dancers, contortionists, mountain climbers, parkour people, animal movement specialists. I really wanted to find that balance of characteristics. You can’t just tell them, “You’re going to wear a rubber suit and do this” [laughs]. Partly because of the tight shooting schedule, you had to have pre-rehearsed workshops for becoming the creatures — what their mindset was, how they communicated.

If I think too much about [“The Crow”] it could be daunting. I’m just concentrated on telling the best story I can, getting the best people involved, and quite quickly it becomes the same thing where it becomes a big challenge, you want to do more than what you’ve got. It’s a dream project. I had “The Crow” all over my room, I love the original film and the graphic novel is the reason I wanted to do the remake. I wouldn’t want to do a remake of that original film, there’s a very potent original text to draw from.

READ MORE: The 9 Indies to Watch on VOD This November: ‘The Hallow,’ ‘Entertainment’ and More

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