The Hole (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner27/04/2001

Four stars out of five
Running time: 105 mins

Engaging psychological thriller that succeeds despite its plot-holes, thanks to a cracking young cast and atmospheric direction.

The Hole has been marketed, misleadingly, as the 'British Blair Witch’, with the trailers focusing on the scenes in the hole (actually a disused bomb shelter) and making the whole thing look like a typical teen horror flick.

This is a mistake, as there are no ‘jump-out-of-your-seat’ moments and anyone expecting to be ‘scared’ will come away disappointed, since it’s much more of a psychological thriller than a horror. Indeed, it succeeds admirably as a thriller and pulls off several effectively chilling moments. It’s true that there are plot-holes galore and it doesn’t really stand up to close examination, but if you’re prepared to go along with it you’ll find it worth your while.

Having said that, it’s much better to see the film knowing as little as possible before you go in, so if you already know that you want to see it, then Stop Reading Now!

The film opens with the image of a delirious and bloodied teenage girl staggering along a country lane – a lane that is strewn with bouquets of flowers and her own face on ‘Missing’ posters. It quickly transpires that she and three other public school teenagers have been missing for almost three weeks. From news reports we gather that the teenager (Liz, played by American Beauty’s Thora Birch) is the sole survivor after all four kids were trapped in a disused bomb shelter, and police counsellor Embeth Davidtz is given the task of talking to her to try and find out what happened.

Initially, Liz blames her nerdy best friend Martin (Daniel Brocklebank), claiming that it was all part of a plan to get the boy she likes (son-of-a-rock-star Mike, played by Desmond Harrington) to notice her, and what better way to notice someone than to be stuck in a hole with them for a few days? According to Liz, Martin (who has an equally huge crush on Liz) was spying on them and intended to leave them there until they hated each other. However, when the police capture Martin, a conflicting picture emerges!

The film’s master-stroke, then, is that it suddenly makes you doubt the sanity of both its main characters, with increasingly unnerving effect, as neither we, nor the police know who to believe. Similarly, the fact that the horror stems from human emotion (in this case a dangerously obsessive teenage crush), rather than, say, Something Nasty In The Hole With Them is a huge point in the film’s favour. The scenes in the hole are also extremely atmospheric, with good use of trick-photography (notably time-lapse) and a lot of attention paid to the soundtrack – make sure you see it at a cinema equipped with decent sound, as at one point it seems as if the auditorium is swarming with flies!

The film is extremely well-acted throughout, with each of the teens seeming like real people, thanks to some well-scripted dialogue. There are also several intriguingly off-beat scenes, such as when Keira Knightley’s Frankie talks rugby-playing boyfriend Geoff (Laurence Fox – son of Edward Fox) into the hole-exploring expedition while he’s standing naked in the showers after a match.

It’s Thora Birch who’s the stand-out, though, delivering a finely balanced performance and proving that between her and American Beauty co-star Mena Suvari, she’s definitely the talent to watch. (Hopefully, she’ll continue to make interesting choices such as this). Her slightly-plummy English accent is also spot-on – she even whispers with an English accent!

To sum up, then, The Hole has more than its fair share of flaws and plot-inconsistencies, but nonetheless succeeds as an entertaining and creepy thriller, thanks to its excellent cast and skillful direction by Nick Hamm. Recommended.

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Content updated: 18/10/2017 08:42

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