The Hole In The Ground: Is the 2019 Movie Based on Real Life?

‘The Hole In The Ground’ is a 2019 mystery horror film directed by Lee Cronin that features Seána Kerslake and James Quinn Markey as a mother-son duo caught in a living nightmare. After moving to the Irish countryside, single mother Sarah and her young son, Chris, discover a sinister giant sinkhole in the forest near their isolated house. Soon, the latter’s behavior turns concerningly eerie, and his mother becomes suspicious if the boy in her house even is her son or if he’s someone— or something— much more dangerous.

‘The Hole In The Ground’ builds a sense of terror within the audience and explores themes of anxiety, motherhood, and mounting paranoia. The parent-kid dynamic that forms the center of the narrative lends an incredibly realistic idea of domestic horror to the film that many viewers might be able to relate to. As such, they might be wondering if there is any real-life inspiration behind this movie. If so, here is everything you need to know about ‘The Hole In The Ground’ and its connection to reality.

The Hole In The Ground is Not a True Story

No, ‘The Hole In The Ground’ is not based on a true story. The supernatural elements present throughout the film that involve identity-stealing shapeshifter underground monsters firmly set this film in the realm of fiction. However, there is a real-life inspiration behind the base premise of the story. Director and co-writer Lee Cronin first got the idea for this movie after seemingly coming across a 2013 news piece about a man in Florida who was swallowed by a sinkhole.

“The first thing that kicked off was a story about a guy in Florida, who was in his armchair, and the earth just opened up beneath him,” Cronin said in an interview with Deadline. “I thought that was really interesting, how something so fantastical could happen in a domestic space.” Sinkholes are vastly common in the west-central area of Florida, with their magnitudes varying from case to case. The concept that built the foundation of this movie takes inspiration from a mundane yet, terrifying aspect of real life.

The nightmarish notion of the ground literally disappearing from beneath your feet is also mirrored in a metaphorical sense in the story’s emotional plotline. When Cronin came up with his horror sinkhole idea, he was simultaneously working on a character concept about a mother and her son with a dark past who have trouble trusting each other. In the film, Sarah moves to the countryside with Chris after divorcing her husband and searching for a new beginning. Though it is never explicitly stated, the film repeatedly alludes to the idea that she was domestically abused or assaulted by her ex-husband.

According to Women’s Aid, one in four women in Ireland who have been in a relationship has faced abuse by a partner. As such, Sarah’s silent backstory also has much basis in reality. In turn, it realistically portrays her paranoia once she realizes an imposter has taken her son’s place. When discussing the often explored horror potential kids possess, actress Seána Kerslake commented, “I think there’s something terrifying, somebody, that you think you know so well and is almost a part of you, not being who you think they are anymore. You’re not in everybody’s heads, and you don’t know what they’re thinking, so do you really ever know anybody and what they’re capable of?”

Throughout its runtime, the movie predominantly relies less on jumpscares and more on building dread through mundane activities. Besides, the actual horror lies in a mother’s slow and sudden realization that she no longer recognizes the kid before her. Ultimately, ‘The Hole In The Ground’ is not based on a true story. It’s a piece of fiction by co-writers Lee Cronin and Stephen Shields. The film takes some inspiration from a story that is commonplace within its region and then uses that commonality to create a tale full of mundane horrors.

Read More: The Hole In The Ground Ending, Explained: What is Inside the Sinkhole?