Review by Michael Jacobson
Thora Birch, Desmond Harrington, Laurence Fox, Keira Knightley, Daniel
Brocklebank, Embeth Davidtz
Director: Nick Hamm
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Seville Pictures
Features: See Review
Length: 102 Minutes
Release Date: March 19, 2002
NOTE: Exclusive Canadian release.
a nearly catatonic, disheveled girl walks through the abandoned corridors of her
school, she carries with her a mystery. Under
the watchful eye of a psychiatrist, she begins to tell not only her story, but
the story of four of her classmates as well.
It’s a strange, disturbing tale of a situation gone horrifically
wrong…and it may not be all true.
is the premise of Nick Hamm’s The Hole, a simply structured but daring
tale of dread and suspense that actually puts a different spin on the teenage
horror film by compounding a very basic and real fear—being buried
alive—with a sense of unfolding it through the eyes of an unstable character
we may not be able to rely on.
character is Liz (Birch), a young student in England, who slowly begins to tell
her story to a psychiatrist (Davidtz). It’s
a tale of love and obsession, starting with her crush on Mike (Harrington), the
school’s sole American and son of a famous rock star.
She turns to her best friend Martin (Brocklebank) for advice, and it’s
clear that Martin has unreciprocated feelings for her.
makes a clever arrangement to help her out.
When Mike and two other school chums Geoff and Frankie (Fox and Knightley)
decide they DON’T want to go on their geography class field trip at the end of
the term, Martin brings them, along with Liz, to a hidden bunker/bomb shelter in
the woods. There, they can spend
their last three days camping out and having a good time, while the school
thinks they’ve gone home and their parents think they’re on the field trip.
It also will give Liz a chance to be with Mike in an enclosed space for a
Liz recants the story, Martin doesn’t return to unlock the door when the time
is up…scary stuff, but it seems to work out okay in the end.
At least if you believe Liz’s story.
But if her story is true…why is she the only one of the group we see
the investigation into the bunker grows deeper, and the psychiatrist realizes
more and more that Liz isn’t telling the whole truth, the secrets of the hole
begin to come out, slowly but surely. It’s
an unsettling tale that doesn’t have the harmless ending Liz scripted for
us…instead, it’s a grisly tale of sex, drugs and booze turning into
claustrophobia, paranoia and panic as the lights grow dim, the food and water
run out, and death begins to creep in.
leave the plot description as that. The
film satisfies, intrigues, and indeed, repulses with its turns.
It’s difficult to say how much of the final acts were really
surprising, but they were audacious, and filmed with boldness where others might
have opted for timidity.
Hamm is a director with a terrific sense of pacing, editing, visual style and
dramatic flair. The Hole is
a picture that opens up early to a lot of possibilities, and because of its
structure, doesn’t necessarily find itself forced to pick just one and stick
cast of young actors is good, headed by American beauty (no pun intended) Thora
Birch, who turns in another noteworthy performance as Liz.
Her external emotions and internal turmoil provide the picture with its
sense of necessary ambiguity. When
she begins to tell her story, the audience is hooked in, and will remain so for
the full ride.
a shame this movie didn’t get more notice in this country…with the thriller
genre making a strong new stand at the box office, pictures like The Hole can
more than stand their own against by-the-numbers movies like Don’t Say a
is a good anamorphic offering from Seville…images are generally very sharp and
clean, and color rending is natural and well-presented throughout.
Occasionally, there is a bit of softness associated with darker
images…black clothing, for example, shows little detail, but that’s a minor
complaint. Low lit sequences come
across very well and deliver maximum effect.
Overall, a commendable effort.
only a stereo mix, the soundtrack is lively and dynamic, with plenty of front
stage panning action. The musical
cues are mid-range, but the effects and screams deliver quite a punch.
Deluxe Special Edition disc includes a good commentary track from director Nick
Hamm…a little one-note, perhaps, but filled with good information and never
sparse. There is also a reel of 9
deleted scenes, a stills gallery (about a minute and a half’s worth), a
trailer, and some bonus previews for other Seville titles.