The Hole in the Ground (film)

The Hole in the Ground is a 2019 supernatural horror film directed by Lee Cronin in his feature debut film, from a screenplay by Cronin and Stephen Shields. The film stars Seána Kerslake, James Cosmo, Kati Outinen, Simone Kirby, Steve Wall and James Quinn Markey. The story follows a young woman who begins to suspect that her son's disturbing behavior is linked to a mysterious sinkhole.

The Hole in the Ground
The Hole in the Ground (2019 film).png
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLee Cronin
Produced by
  • Conor Barry
  • John Keville
Written by
  • Lee Cronin
  • Stephen Shields
Music byStephen McKeon
CinematographyTom Comerfeld
Edited byColin Campbell
Distributed by
Release date
  • 25 January 2019 (2019-01-25) (Sundance)
  • 1 March 2019 (2019-03-01) (UK and Ireland)
Running time
90 minutes[1]
  • Belgium
  • Finland
  • Ireland
  • United Kingdom
Box office$3.4 million[2]

The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on 25 January 2019. It was released on 1 March 2019, by Wildcard Distribution in Ireland and by Vertigo Releasing in the United Kingdom.


Sarah O’Neill and her son Christopher “Chris” move to the Irish countryside to start a new life in a rented house next to an old forest, after leaving Chris's father. While driving, Sarah almost hits an old woman named Noreen Brady standing in the middle of the road, causing the car's sideview mirror to break and fall off. When she exits the car to retrieve the mirror, Sarah notices Noreen whispering to herself before she turns to stare at Chris in silence.

After returning home, Chris becomes frightened by a spider and Sarah catches it in a jar. Outside, Chris asks her why they came here without his father, and says that his father would have killed the spider instead of releasing it. An upset Sarah releases the spider from the jar and Chris stamps on it before running away from her and into the forest. Sarah follows Chris, but is unable to catch him. She starts to get worried and eventually comes upon a large sinkhole in the middle of the forest. Believing that her son might be hurt, she turns around in a panic and discovers Chris standing behind her.

At a dinner party with friends that evening, Sarah discovers that one of her friends was in the same class with Noreen's son James when the pair were children. Her friend says that Noreen once burst into the classroom screaming before being restrained and taken to the principal's office before the police arrived. James was consequently taken out of school, and a few months later, murdered by Noreen after she ran him over. Later that night, Sarah awakens to sounds downstairs. She discovers that the door is open, and flees into the forest, believing Chris has run away. After returning home, she calls the police, only to discover Chris standing in the doorway of his bedroom. Sarah visits a doctor the next day and is prescribed anxiety medication.

While driving Chris home from school, Sarah comes across Noreen, who is standing in the middle of the road again. Sarah exits the car and asks her to move, before meeting Noreen's kind husband Des. The two talk, while Noreen approaches the car. She notices Chris and becomes enraged, screaming that he is not Sarah's son while hitting the window with her head. Des pulls her away, and Sarah drives home in shock.

Sarah visits the couple's house the day after, and discovers Noreen has been mysteriously murdered in a gruesome way, having her head buried in the dirt. Sarah attends Noreen's funeral, and notices that all the mirrors in Noreen’s house are covered with black cloths. Des explains to Sarah that Noreen believed their son James was an imposter; she could apparently tell by looking at James’s reflection in a mirror, and the habit soon became an obsession. Sarah asks what happened to James, and Des contradicts her friend when he replies that he was hit by his car after he didn't see James dart into the road.

Sarah and Chris's relationship begins to fracture; Chris suddenly develops a fondness for spaghetti bolognese, a dish he previously hated, and when Sarah confronts him about finding his toy soldier in the forest during a run, he grows enraged and pushes the dinner table towards her in an uncharacteristic display of strength. Sarah hears strange noises whilst bathing one night and later observes Chris catching and eating spiders in his bedroom. The next day, she visits the doctor who tells her that everything is normal. Despite this, she is convinced Chris isn't himself.

Sarah and Chris sit down for breakfast after she finishes the task of wallpapering the house. While Chris is eating, Sarah tells him that she loves him, and Chris begins to touch her face. When his fingers touch the scar on her forehead, he suddenly digs them into her skin. Sarah wakes up, and realises it was a nightmare. She watches Chris perform in the school talent show. During his verse, Chris zones in on Sarah and begins to speak his lines in an emotionless voice. Sarah then flees from the hall, and later from Chris when he is walked back to her by a teacher.

Sarah hides a camera in her son's room in an effort to monitor Chris' nighttime behavior, and after watching the footage she becomes more convinced than ever that he is not her real son. She takes the camera over to Des’s house to show him the evidence. However, when she does, he becomes enraged and throws the camera at the floor. Confronting him, Sarah asks Des to tell her if he truly doesn't believe her, to which Des replies that he can't.

Eventually, Sarah ascertains that Chris is a changeling. While Chris watches television, she says they're going to play one of their favourite games - in which Sarah counts to three, and then they both pull faces. But after she counts, Chris just stares at her blankly. Sarah then tells him that he is not her son while being backed into the kitchen by Chris. The changeling snaps, and begins to throw her across the kitchen repeatedly. An injured Sarah later wakes in the garden, where Chris is shown digging a hole, before he drags her over and begins to bury her headfirst in the same manner as Noreen. He then falls asleep (having been drugged by Sarah, with the medication she got from the doctor) and Sarah frees herself. She drags Chris to the house's basement and finds the broken car mirror. Placing it to the side of Chris, he is shown to be a demonic entity. He begins to revive and after a minor scuffle, Sarah locks him in the basement and flees to the forest's sinkhole.

Sarah eventually finds the real still-alive Chris buried deep in the ground. As the two escape, she is followed by a changeling in the form of a monster. As they reach the end of the tunnel, Sarah sees the changeling's hand on her wrist and frantically hits it with the torch. The hand suddenly turns to human flesh, and Sarah shines the light down the tunnel to see that the monster has taken her form. Sarah and Chris return to the house, and Sarah enters to retrieve the car keys before setting the house on fire with the changeling that was Chris still inside. She and the real Chris drive away to start a new life back in the city; Sarah begins to attend university, and Chris happily settles into their new house.

But one day, while Chris is playing on his bike outside, Sarah takes some pictures of him through the window. Viewing the pictures, she sees that Chris's face is very blurry compared to the rest of the image. The final shot shows that Sarah has covered the walls of the living room in mirrors.



In December 2018, A24 and DirecTV Cinema acquired U.S. distribution rights to the film.[3] That same month, Vertigo Releasing acquired U.K. and Irish distribution rights to the film.[4] It had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on 25 January 2019.[5] It was released in the United States and Ireland on 1 March 2019.[6][7]


Box officeEdit

The Hole in the Ground grossed a total worldwide of $3.4 million and just $21,072 in North America,[2][8]

Critical responseEdit

As of June 2020, the film holds an 83% approval rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, based on 88 reviews, with an average rating of 6.34/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Hole in the Ground artfully exploits parental fears with a well-made horror outing that makes up in sheer effectiveness what it lacks in originality."[9] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 63 out of 100, based on 16 critics, indicating "generally positive reviews".[10]


  1. ^ "The Hole in the Ground". Sundance Film Festival. Retrieved January 25, 2019.
  2. ^ a b "The Hole in the Ground (2019)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved January 19, 2020.
  3. ^ Donnelly, Matt. "A24, DirecTV Acquire Sundance Horror-Thriller 'The Hole in The Ground'". Archived from the original on 5 December 2018. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  4. ^ Grater, Tom (6 December 2018). "Sundance-bound 'The Hole In The Ground' sells internationally including UK (exclusive)". Screen International. Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  5. ^ Loughrey, Clarisse (30 November 2018). "Sundance Film Festival line up: Highlights from Ted Bundy to documentaries about Harvey Weinstein and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez". Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  6. ^ Murray, Suzanne (January 11, 2019). "The Hole In The Ground To Open in Cinemas Across Ireland and the UK on 1st March". Wildcard Distribution. Retrieved January 25, 2019.
  7. ^ Miska, Brad (13 December 2018). "A24's 'The Hole in the Ground' Coming in March 2019". Retrieved 25 January 2019.
  8. ^ "The Hole in the Ground (2019) - Financial Information". The Numbers, Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved January 19, 2020.
  9. ^ "The Hole in the Ground (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved October 9, 2020.
  10. ^ "The Hole in the Ground reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved September 22, 2019.

External linksEdit