Mounting weirdness descends as a mother and young son set up home in the middle of a dark and sinister forest

Here’s an Irish folk-horror that clearly drew the right conclusions from the midnight-movie pairing of The Babadook and Under the Shadow: a film operating at a suspenseful, spider-like creep that allows it to skirt your defences and get some distance under the skin.

It opens with a broadly familiar set-up. Recently separated, subtly scarred Sarah (Seána Kerslake) installs herself and young son Chris (James Quinn Markey) in the kind of countryside fixer-upper-type property that conventionally serves as a magnet for trouble. Yet its foundations are undermined in unexpected fashion, first by the discovery of a vast sinkhole in the surrounding forest, then by the neighbourhood crone (Kaurismäki regular Kati Outinen) who pauses her catatonic murmuring to insist that Chris isn’t who he seems. As Sarah briefs one confidante: “It’s been a funny few days.”

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