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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Four snotty rich kids at a prep school in England want to get out of a
field trip to Wales, where they would have to eat "fish paste
sandwiches" and be otherwise uncomfortable. They also don't want to get
out of the trip by just returning home over the school break. Two are
male friends, Mike Steel (Desmond Harrington), son of a rock star, and
Geoff Bingham (Laurence Fox), and two are female friends, Elizabeth
Dunn (Thora Birch) and Frances Almond Smith (Keira Knightley). Frances
and Geoff have had an intimate relationship, although any relationship
between them seems very tenuous, and Elizabeth has had a crush on Mike
for a long time; Mike was otherwise going out with another girl, but
she had just dumped him. One of them knows, or knows someone who knows,
the perfect "getaway" spot, secluded and private, just right for
promoting an intimate, extended weekend of partying--an old war bunker
deep underground in the middle of a forest. The bunker is accessed via
a circular, thick steel door, and is lined with thick reinforced
concrete. The four end up trapped in the bunker, with the door locked
and no way to get out, for at least 10 days. Who locked them in and
why? How will they get out?
If you're someone who only likes straightforward plots, traditionally happy endings and films depicting "facts" that are close to what you believe to be true about the actual world, you're best advised to avoid The Hole. If you instead do not mind, or even prefer, circuitous, twisted tales with strong fantasy elements (in this case primarily to enable what amounts to a parable) and fairly nihilistic endings, you may find much to love here. Reflecting the film's overall ambiguity, The Hole resides in a gray genre area between thriller, psychological horror and a straight-ahead drama. The first half hour or so is much more straightforward, and for me, the film was cruising along at about an 8 for at least that length of time. But as it progressed and things became much more bizarre and "evil", my score gradually rose, with the extended climax being a firm 10 for me. So my rating on this one is more of an average.
The plot, from a screenplay by first time (and only time so far) scripters Ben Court and Caroline Ip, based on a novel by Guy Burt, is unusual for being told primarily from unreliable characters' perspectives. We learn most of the story through the testimony of a victim--Elizabeth, and a primary suspect, Martyn Taylor (Daniel Brocklebank), who may in fact be a friend of Elizabeth's. Their accounts change as the film progresses, often framing different characters as victims and perpetrators, and the bulk of what we see on screen are depictions of these changing accounts. Thus we see some "repeating" material. It's important to show parts of the story again as the supposed facts about the story change.
Stemming from this, it's easy to see that the performances are quite good. Most characters undergo subtle alterations for the different instantiations of the story, and the four principals--Birch, Harrington, Fox and Knightley--adeptly transform themselves, aided also by their clothing, hair and makeup.
Court and Ip cleverly do not change the scenario as much as you might expect after the first couple variations. It keeps you on your toes as to just who the perpetrator was, but also enables a surprising and in-depth exploration of the psychotic personality and motivation behind the "lock-in"--whoever the perpetrator was (and I certainly won't reveal the film's answer here), they were clearly somewhat insane. We're also led to be skeptical about the material that's relayed from an ostensibly third-person point of view. It's never clear for most events just what is meant to be "objective" and true versus what is still the potential fantasy of the storyteller. Personally, I love that kind of ambiguity. Some others do not like it so much.
The Hole is also a bit of an exploration of spoiled kids. All of the main characters are manipulators who are used to getting whatever they want. They all seem to have an attitude that their intellect is far superior to almost every one else, and thus they're entitled to whatever they desire, as well as justified in whatever it takes to get it--that's a classic disposition of many criminals, and not a few business leaders, politicians, Internet geeks and so on. It's notable that when the students' parents appear (which is very seldom), they are distant and mostly dissociated from their offspring, who have come to rule the roost as far as we can tell. The investigators trying to piece together the case come to know this, although they never directly state as much, but the performers give very subtle clues to their complex realizations as the story goes on. We can see them also gradually losing hope that they'll be able to properly sort the events out and reveal the truth.
The Hole can be seen as a parable about how far some may go to get what they want, as well as how far co-conspirators may go before they try to divorce themselves from events gone wrong (there are clues throughout the film that other characters had various levels of knowledge and involvement). It's also an exploration of what makes some go as far as they do and what makes conspirators play along. At the same time it comments on the bewilderment of "outsiders" trying to figure out how some horrific event developed. A lot of the answers are appropriately ambiguous. Under the guises of the subtexts, as well as on a more visceral surface level, the film is a great success.
I've been anticipating this film for a while since it is Thora Birch's first
role since American Beauty. So, The Hole. The Hole has been hyped up as a
horror/psychological film in which 4 students are locked down an old wartime
bunker (-the- Hole) to avoid a boring Geography field trip. How does it
The casting is probably the jewel of this film. It's superb. The absolutely stunning Keira Knightley (Sabé from Star Wars Episode I) appears as Liz's (Birch) friend, Frankie. All the rest of the characters are complete unknowns, except the psychologist played by Embeth Davidtz (Matilda, Bridget Jones, Schindler's List), but they all act their parts excellently.
This film really has the British 'feel' mastered. The sets are excellent, the locations are splendid, and the whole 'feel' of the movie is very realistic. The school really does feel like a British public school (A British 'public school' is like a 'private school' in the US.. one where you need rich parents to flash $$$ to get you in). The unnamed pupils seem extremely realistic.
There are only three small flaws with this film. The first is that it doesn't exactly live up to the hype in the British press. I did not find this scary at all, but it was an extremely well done mystery/whodunnit. Horror? Nah, not unless you classify psychological thrillers as 'horror'.
The second flaw is that the transitions between different parts of the film can be rather confusing. Often, the film bounds around past and present shots and be extremely disorienting in places. Unlike Memento, this disorientation is not an advantage. However, at the end of the film, you'll be able to tie all of the parts together and leave feeling quite satisfied with the story (a bit like the film 'Wild Things').
Another minor let down is the music. Totally forgettable, has no place in the film, and it often appears at the most inappropriate times.
I really do hope this is released in the USA soon, as Thora Birch is definitely not to be missed here.. and I think the stunning Keira Knightley is going to be getting some bigger roles from now on, she's definitely earned her stripes here. So, my big question, why has this not been scheduled for US release!?
This is certainly not a Blair Witch Project clone, although this impression has been given by the press. Instead, this is a cleverly constructed and extremely well casted psychological thriller/mystery.
Liz stumbles towards her boarding school, bloodied and shaken up after being
missing for several days. She tells the police psychologist of a party in a
hidden bunker planned for her and three friends by her friend Martin.
However when Martin doesn't return things turn nasty in the bunker. However
when Martin is found by the police he tells a very different story. Slowly
the true events are retold in flashback.
I saw the trailers for this and assumed it was another teen slasher I didn't even know it was set in Britain until someone told me. I think the trailer is an example of a studio unsure of how to sell a product and just plumping for the lowest common denominator. However this film rises above that. Instead of being a slasher or a horror it is a thriller with a horror twist. This makes it better it may not be as scary as you expect but it is a better story and is creepy rather than schlocky!
The cast are good despite being young. The weaknesses come in with the adult cast especially the cops who have clearly watched too much Sweeney! However the teens are good and are more than the sort of fodder that is put in teen movies.
Overall this is not what you expect. But it is better than you'd think. The thriller story is gripping because you're not sure what happened in the bunker until the end and I had questions answered as I went. Not great but certainly better than another teen slasher movie.
Truly, fresh and new ideas, rarely make it to film. The Hole, based on
the novel (after the Hole) by Guy Burt is a good exception to this. It
is seldom that we see a top quality thriller, but this movie is well
cast, well directed, and works wonderfully. The story is quite simple
really, it relies on strong characterisation and good dialogue. All the
cast give good performances and Thora Birch is outstanding. This
thriller really does keep you on the edge of your seat throughout; it
is very dark, very creepy and has a terrifying atmosphere. I would
recommend this film to anyone who likes a good thriller. It isn't in
the same league as Se7en and Silence of the Lambs, but it is better
than most thrillers that are released.
8/10 A great film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The whole movie is about one girls obsession with another boy, and the lengths she goes to make him notice her. I know you have 'cliché' ringing about your ears already but this movie has managed to twist and contort itself to such extremes that it took me a while even to break it down that far.
First of all I saw the trailer, very deceiving, portraying the movie as some kind of teen slasher, with the deep voiced narrator telling of how they wanted to be in this 'hole' so much, yet after not long are desperate to get out. There was even the ubiquitous shot of a girl (liz) screaming as if some masked killer were about to chalk her onto the list of not so memorable movie deaths. But instead I can only think this trailer was done to try and draw the student and teen population into the cinema's to watch a much darker and more frightening movie.
Forget about the hole, the hole is unimportant. The movie could have easily been called 'the big wardrobe' or something foolish. It's not about the fact that these people are stuck in a hole, it only represents an unbreakable boundary holding them in, albeit a slightly spooky one. The real boundary is Liz's encapsulating herself in her own hole by being so fazed with this boy (mike) even to the extent that when her best friend is vomiting in the only disgusting toilet in the hole, right next to her, she doesn't notice and tries to strike up a conversation about how Mike is starting to notice her more.
Another thing I liked was the lack of twist in the movie. Wes Craven seems to write this book of movie rules after every one of good movies, and all his pioneering new idea's are fast turned into known and hated cliché's. That's what I think of all these slasher flicks thinking they have to have a 'twist'. There wasn't a clear twist in this movie, there was a gradual change of emphasis, guises of the same theme, but no 'oh it was only a dream'... or 'I'm your father Jessie' kind of twists.
About 8 people walked out near the end of this movie when I was watching it at the cinema. I can only guess it was because they expected to come and see a movie where pretty girls got stabbed and then died quickly and never seen again. Instead they had some truly gruesome deaths followed by sickening decay and rotting, and the decay of the living due to lack of water. And the most frightening thing about the movie was the fact that for one girl, it was all self imposed.
So if you want to see a pretty girl get stabbed go to watch another 'I know what you did last summer' sequel, but if you want a slightly disturbing psychological thriller then give this one a shot.
This is no teen horror movie. Instead its a really good exploration into consequences of obsession. The direction was very good. I found it entertaining, frightening and most of all, thought provoking. Special mention to Thora Birch who adeptly highlights the subtle transformation of her character throughout the story.
The Hole begins slowly and very standardly, but unlike most genre films, it
picks up pace after 40 minutes then accelerates towards a smashing ending.
Well okay, the ending itself wasn't a great surprise, but I found it
satisfying in a B-grade kind of way.
The premise of Hole is pretty mundane. The idea of a group of teenagers going into an old abandoned building or structure for a lark is a stock standard story opener for hundreds of B-grade horror flicks. But then Hole becomes interesting by the re-telling of events from different characters' individual points of view in a manner reminiscent of the 1950 British gem The Woman in Question'. Just who is telling the truth?
The final third of Hole rockets along and the film becomes genuinely frightening. I was especially impressed with the way repercussion of actions and in-actions are graphically shown and not glossed over as so many genre films have a habit of doing.
Hole is not a great film. The acting from the five teenagers is a cut above average, but the direction is pretty heavy handed and not very imaginative. Overall I found Hole a nicely satisfying and genuinely frightening B-grade experience which proves the old adage that says the worst monsters are human beings. It also shows that modern thriller/horror genre films doesn't always have to rely on lashings of special effects and supernaturalism to tell a story effectively.
THE HOLE (2001)
While this movie wasn't quite what I expected, I still got my money's worth. The Hole is a movie without much gore or scenes of hard-out murdering; this movie was more of a thinker. It built on its suspense and chills and the plot was looked at from many different points of view before the final call was made on actually what happened down in the hole. The film has plenty of T&A for the boys (and girls!) and moments of total spookiness for horror buffs, and I am sure everyone will get something out of this movie. The acting is superb. Thora Birch once again proves she is one of the most promising young actresses around these days. Her British accent is flawless and she is stunningly beautiful and acts out her scenes with all her effort. The rest of the cast, apart from the fantastic Embeth Davidtz, are pretty well unknowns, but they all act extremely well and each of them give stellar performances. The script for this movie is fantastic. It builds on the shocks and twists and is very smart and sees the story from many perspectives. I think the characters swore a little too much, but it didn't bother me to a big extent. The direction for the movie is also very well done. I appreciated the director's style and ideas and his twists and turns and many, many cuts are handled excellently. Some people may not really enjoy this film because it runs longer than usual horror movies and is a little slower than recent enjoyable thrillers, but this is all due to building the suspense that is all worth it in the end. Not many people have watched this thriller because it is a very independent film and sort of over-taken by the big blockbusters these days, but I highly recommend renting The Hole. This is an awesome psychological thriller that is well worth the time. It is a film that may make your heart miss a few beats and a film that's finale will leave your jaw on the ground!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
**WARNING - SPOILERS AHEAD**
Short version: this movie sucks. Long version: as somebody else wrote, the hole is in the plot line. Or better, there are lots of holes, but mainly:
a) Martin has a perfect alibi, yet he's the suspect from the beginning and nobody believes him. But, since they find him (dead) with the key, he MUST be guilty. And Liz must surely be rather strong, if she can plunge him in the river so easily. And rather quick, to put the key in his pocket without anybody (in the audience) noticing. Martin dies only a few yards away from Liz's house, but no one seems to care about that.
b) Hello? Did anybody tell the psychologist there were THREE dead bodies in the cell, one of which with his head crushed? How come the police acts as if nothing happened and no one ever talks about it? How come Liz was never questioned SERIOUSLY about these deaths? The first version of the story ends with everybody coming out of the hole happy and smiling, but the psychologist seems to believe it.
c) the hole is abandoned since WW II, but there still is electricity. The hole has an emergency exit which can be locked from outside, in order to make it completely unuseful. The door of the hole has a glass part, but nobody tries to break it.
d)The door key magically appeared in Martin's pockets some time before, because he won't let us know who gave it to him, and if we knew it, that would mean that someone else knew about the existence of the hole, and that would have made it too complex for the writers.
e) Nobody in the school noticed that the boys didn't go to Wales, and their families didn't notice they didn't come home. It took at least three days to understand that there was something wrong.
f) Liz is so convincing when she talks, that everybody instantly believes her: see the ending.
g) Think about this: when Liz came out, the door was OPEN. If Martin was on holiday, who the hell could open it without a key?
I think that's enough to explain why the movie doesn't work.
A thriller is a dangerous game: if you want to play it with the audience, you must be sure you can handle it. As many famous screenwriters said, you've got to take the story and shake its foundations: if it "survives", you've probably got a good movie coming on. This one crumbles quite miserably.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
THE HOLE tells the tale of four British public (here it would be prep) school students messing around in an old bomb shelter. They accidentally get locked in. After several days, they begin to die off one by one. The lone survivor, played by Thora (GHOST WORLD) Birch, relates her horrific tale as the movie unfolds to investigators, including a doctor (Embeth Davidtz) who follows Birch through her recovery and eventually takes her back down into the shelter. A fellow student who led the four to the shelter is suspected of having locked them in, but has disappeared. This low-budget effort is less a horror flick than a psychological thriller, sort of HIGH TENSION without the barbed-wire baseball bat, although it has its share of grue and contains a couple of highly squeamish moments, the worst involving a pre-PIRATES Keira Knightley. It may remind some of SAW, and I would say rightly so. The end is a shocker, and Birch acts up a storm. Made about five years ago, this is some nasty stuff.
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