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The Hole Review

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Deeply traumatised after two weeks of being trapped in a remote underground bunker with three classmates, Liz blames fellow student Martin for their imprisonment. He, however, paints a different picture.

★★★★★

Having made his mark with Martha Meet Frank, Daniel And Laurence (1998), Hamm treads far murkier waters for his sophomore directorial effort, an adaptation of Guy Burt's novel After The Hole, which is about as far removed from fluffy rom-com territory as it's possible to get.

Pitched somewhere between The Blair Witch Project and The Famous Five, The Hole offers enough moments of duplicity, character degeneration and, of course, shock twists, to suggest it really wants to be the next Shallow Grave. And indeed, it boasts striking similarities - for example, the way in which it places its dislikeable protagonists in an extraordinary situation - but ultimately it lacks the necessary cleverness to really succeed. Holding things together is Liz (Thora Birch, replete with near-perfect plummy accent) who, having escaped from the hellish "hole" of the title (actually a disused World War II bomb shelter), relates the whole sorry story to concerned counsellor Davidtz. A misfit at her private school, Liz is infatuated with classroom heart-throb Mike and left with only her creepy computer nerd buddy, Martin, to confide in, unaware that he, in fact, fancies her. According to Liz, it is Martin who imprisoned them in the bunker.

With the first half given over to Liz's sanitised tale, the latter part of the film takes on a darker note as Martin tells the cops his side of the story. And here's where the film loses momentum and veers dangerously towards standard thriller cliché territory, throwing in some horribly graphic moments (uncontrollable vomit, maggot-ridden toilets) and spiralling towards an all-too-obvious outcome.

What's more, the actual impetus behind the foursome's sojourn down the hole (it's a hiding place to escape the dreaded geography field trip) is unconvincing, given that the amount of generally permissive behaviour that takes place above ground suggests they could think of far more imaginative ways to escape trampling over the fells.

It’s not the British Blair Witch, but it is an effective chiller which prompts plenty of post-credits contemplation, and has more imagination British thrillers have had in their entire running time.

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