The Hole [retro review]

“I sure am glad I paid money for this.”

The Scoop: 2001 R, directed by Nick Hamm and starring Thora Birch, Desmond Harrington, Daniel Brocklebank, and Keira Knightley

Tagline: Desperate To Get In. Dying To Get Out.

Summary Capsule: Four teens find themselves trapped in an underground bunker; only one makes it out alive; but what really happened?

Rich’s Rating: Don’t play in bomb shelters kids.

Rich’s Review: Love, they say, is a many splendoured thing; without it, roses would just be red flowers, there’d be a lot less songs in the world, and many, many less teenage livejournal entries about how the boy/girl of your dreams won’t even acknowledge your existence even though it’s obvious you were meant for each other. And without love, the plot to The Hole would make a great deal less sense. Fortunately, that most irrational of emotions is alive and well, and we can add The Hole to that long list of Love Stories.

However, The Hole isn’t the flowers and candy love of Notting Hill or Four Weddings and a Funeral. Oh, no no no no no. The Hole is more about the kind of love where people collect hair clippings, or stand outside your door for hours on end just staring. We’re talking restraining order type love here.

Set in an English Private school, The Hole tells the story of 5 teenagers: Martyn, the geeky nihilist; Liz (Thora Birch) the shy retiring one; Mike, the jock-who-recently-got-dumped; Geoff, the-guy-dating-Keira-Knightly; and Frankie (Kiera Knightly) the slutty shallow one. With the end of term approaching, Liz, Frankie, Geoff and Mike are planning a party — Liz has the hots for recently-dumped Mike, Martyn is all moon eyed over Liz, Mike is still upset over being dumped, and Geoff just wants to get into Frankie’s pants, a goal she has been vigorously denying him. Martyn just happens to know of the perfect place for a party where the other four can have a weekend away from everyone — an old abandoned bomb shelter deep in the middle of the woods.

Martyn, ever the entrepreneur, agrees to sell the location of the shelter as a party venue to the other four teens, something Liz agrees to go along with in the hopes that recently-dumped Mike will finally notice how hot she is instead. Martyn takes them to the hole, closes the door, and leaves them to their fun.

Or, not so much fun, as it turns out, because only Liz makes it out alive, 18 days later, and practically insane.

But what really happened?

As the police interview Martyn and Liz, conflicting stories begin to emerge; all that is clear is that the other three teens are now dead — but how? How did Liz survive, and escape? In short, they want to know what on earth is going on, and like them, the audience pretty much does too.

The majority of the story of the film is told using one of my favourite storytelling devices. As Martyn is grilled by the police, and Liz is interviewed by a police psychologist, both conflicting stories are played out for us on screen. As more and more facts come to light, differing versions of the events are replayed, and we get closer and closer to understanding what REALLY happened.

It’s hard to talk any more about the plot without spoilerising the entire film, so you’re just going to have to go on my rather dubious recommendation. Also, The Hole certainly isn’t a Usual Suspects/Sixth Sense kind of mind-bending twisty mystery. From the very beginning of the film you’re gonna suspect a few people, and by the end of the film you’re gonna find that you were right about one of them.

For the record, this probably isn’t a good “date” movie, nor would you want to watch this when you’re depressed or upset, because it’s about as uplifting as concrete shoes; but if you’re in the mood for something dark and gritty, with a nice psychological edge to it, you could do far worse than this. Passable entertainment, but not something you should seek out.

And finally, for all you star spotters, this was the first real “big” film for current belle of the Hollywood ball, Keira Knightly, who seems all to happy to dispense with certain articles of clothing during some scenes; not that anyone here would watch it just to leer at some Hollywood starlet, right?

Right?!

Here, where did everybody go…

A shot from the opening credits of the ill-fated "James Bond Kids"

Intermission!

  • Diet pills are bad for you.
  • Don’t climb unstable ladders when you’re angry.
  • Hiding cans of coke can have serious consequences.
  • Cops are dumb.
  • How transparently fake some of the stories people tell in this to begin with are…
  • If you really want to sleep with someone, being locked together in an underground bunker sometimes works.
  • The “English” school bears little resemblance to the actual practices of English private schools, in terms of vacations and the like. Minor details, but obvious to those who live in the UK.

Groovy Quotes

Martyn: Liz and Frankie are almost the same person. Boring, vain, shallow enough to paddle in.

Mike: And then there’s all those exciting exams to look forward to.
Frankie: Way to look on the positive side.
Mike: No, no, no I’ve got a hard-on for these exams, they’re great.
Geoff: You’ve got a hard-on for everything.
Mike: Not for you, man.

Frankie: I hate beaches. All that sand up your crack and nowhere to pee apart from the ocean.

Martyn: No no no no no — you love me! It’s a Martyn Taylor fact. Has there been a day in the last five years that we haven’t talked?
Liz: But you’re more like a gay friend than a boyfriend.
Martyn: But I’m not gay!
Jogging Rugby Players: Yeah right!

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • Se7en
  • My Little Eye
  • Cabin Fever
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2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Saturday’s Six: Movies I (probably) would’ve never seen without MRFH « Mutant Reviewers From Hell

  2. Pingback: Louise does Hocus Pocus « Mutant Reviewers From Hell

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