Sunday, October 16, 2016

31 Days of Halloween 2016: The Hallow

2015, Corin Hardy -- download

As a D&D player, sometimes you see a monster in a movie and ponder, "That thing is a pretty low level, why so dangerous?"  OK, maybe just me. But seriously, any Fighter worth their level could have taken out the Ghoulies or even zombies. But if average people in movies are zero-level, then maybe you can accept them being torn to bits by 1/4 CR monsters. Now turn the tables, and take a rather innocuous monster from a D&D game, say evil Fey, and toss them against a government official and his wife. Instant horror movie.

OK, maybe not that silly.

But The Hallow (not the Hollow) is basically that, as creatures that would go well into any D&D game become the monsters in our world. Adam is the conservationist hired by the Irish government to identify regions of the ancient Irish forests that will be opened up for logging. I guess they imagine a conservationist will control it well enough, so it doesn't end up looking like British Columbia. But the locals don't buy it, and one even gets rather violent over it. But his concern is not exactly with the forest, but with what lives in the forest.

Adam find the horror staple -- black goo -- but with some quick study finds it to be a fungus with qualities like the cordyceps fungus, i.e. it takes over what it infests. And he finds signs of it in his house. Things between him and the violent local escalate, but Adam doesn't guess that the people messing with him and his wife are not quite human. And then they escalate their attacks, assaulting him in his car and his house, stabbing him in the eye in the process, a thin needle grown from that black fungus. It is very clear they are being attacked by something not human. Adam is infected and the creepy little Fey monsters (or are they just people & animals converted by the fungus?) steal his child. It takes him too long to remember that cold iron can help defend against the nasty things.

I loved the connections to old faeries tales and Irish dark mythology. The forests once covered Ireland until we burned and cut them down. The Fey were driven deeper and deeper into the wood. We essentially burned out the fungus. But why do they need a human child? What driving biological force needs a small human? Myth and biology blur in the terror and Adam is just in desperate need to protect his family before he turns.