Irish legends are rich with horrifying monsters, painful realities and a genuine sense of despair. Perhaps rooted in the Irish struggle, many of the lessons from their myths evoke inequality and injustice – it does not matter who you are, what you believe or what you do, you are not above nature’s law. What is nature’s law? It is a perverse combination of God’s will and an amoral natural world. Set in the mostly undisturbed forests of Ireland, The Hallow is about a conservationist (Joseph Mawle) and his young family. Despite many warnings from the locals, he persists in investigating the forests, eventually inspiring its wrath.
One of the most well acted films of this year’s Sundance Film Festival comes from Ireland. Glassland, by director Gerard Barrett, follows John (Jack Reynor), a young taxi driver in Dublin who gets involved with the local criminal underworld in order to make the necessary money to put his alcoholic mother (Toni Collette) in recovery and reunite and fix his broken family. It’s an intimate character thriller that operates on a slow but tense burn.
The increasingly prolific Ben Wheatley returns to screens a little under a year since his gallows-humour effigy Sightseers. Like a talent possessed, he seems like a filmmaker anxious to capitalise on his growing cult recognition and harness larger and more challenging material, a successful strategy that has give him a growing fanbase on both sides of the pond.