Visit filmmaker Corin Hardy’s website, and you’ll see a photo of the British director wearing a wetsuit while filming his horror movie The Hallow, which has its world premiere at Sundance this Sunday. Why did the first-timer sport such garb during the film’s shoot in Ireland?
“That was actually the last day,” says Hardy. “I was trying to do everything as real as possible. The locations were in the middle of nowhere. We shot in five forests. We shot in lakes. When I said to the actors, ‘Let’s go in this lake at four in the morning in the freezing cold,’ I had to get in with them to literally test out the ground myself. I kind of believe that whatever they’ve got to do, I’ve got to do as well.”
The Hallow stars Joseph Mawle (Ripper Street) as a London-based conservationist who travels with his wife (Bojana Novakovic) and small child to Ireland to survey an area of forest believed to be hallowed ground by the locals. According to the film’s official synopsis, his actions “unwittingly disturb a horde of demonic creatures who prey upon the lost. Alone and deep within the darkness of the remote wilderness, he must now fight back to protect his family against the ancient forces’ relentless attacks.”
“I’m a big genre fan and I want to make movies with a fresh approach to monsters,” says Hardy. “As much as I love vampires and werewolves and all the rest, I was looking at monsters that we haven’t seen as much. I decided I wanted to do a fairytale, but grounded in reality—a non-magical version.” For the film’s monsters, Hardy attempted to keep things as practical as possible. “I wanted to find someone in the U.K. who was the equivalent of one of those creature creators like Stan Winston or Rob Bottin,” says the director. “I found a guy called John Nolan, who did an incredible job, as you’ll see. We did everything very practically and then enhanced things slightly with visual effects.”
Hardy wrote the male lead specifically for Mawle, who can be seen later this year in the Chris Hemsworth-starring In the Heart of the Sea. “I always had Joe in mind,” says the director. “I’d seen in many things, and he’s always not necessarily playing the lead, but he gives such powerful performances. I was inspired by the great genre movies like Alien or The Fly where they’ve got these brilliant actors playing these roles with such solid performacnes. Being a huge horror movie fan, I wanted to do it to the highest level I could. I knew I needed some serious quality actors to pull it off. I pretty much wrote it with him in mind and was very glad that he agreed to do it.”
Hardy is currently prepping the long-in-the-works remake of 1994’s supernatural action movie, The Crow. “All I can tell you at the moment is that The Crow was very special to me when I was 17,” says Hardy “I was obsessed, particularly with James O’Barr’s graphic novel. That is definitely a big inspiration on my take.”