Director – Nick Hamm
Cast – Thora Birch, Desmond Harrington, Daniel Brocklebank, Laurence Fox, Keira Knightley, Embeth Davidtz, Steven Waddington
Release Year – 2001
Reviewed by John of the Dead
I remember seeing this UK piece when it hit DVD around a decade ago, and due to my enjoyment of it back then I found much distaste in my inability to locate this one for review, but that changed recently. While The Hole is not a devout horror film in that it consists of many elements leaning towards a more thriller than horror effort, the horror that we do get is worthy of a watch by horror fans, and its great and creative story makes for an engaging experience as well.
Four high school students skip a field trip and instead spend the weekend boozing and frolicking in an old war bunker in an isolated forest. When the three days pass and it comes time for the youngsters to leave the bunker, fun turns to worry when they find themselves unable to open the hatch. As days pass and tensions grow, the worry soon turns to terror when blood spills.
I have always found joy in the idea of people being stuck in a confined space with no way out (Devil, Blackout), and writers Ben Court and Caroline Ip did a great job adapting Guy Burt’s novel (“After the Hole), which took that idea to a unique new level with this one. While the overall storyline is simple, his method of telling the story, via two different points of view from two different characters, Liz(Thora Birch) and Martyn(Daniel Brocklebank) was a sweet idea that kept my attention throughout the film’s 105 minute runtime. Both ideas are pretty much polar opposites of one another, which make for a good mystery element as we are kept in the dark over what really happened…until the harrowing climax that all will find cold and mean, and those looking for a happy ending will find unenjoyable. The horror in the film lies in our characters, and each of them was used properly to contribute positively to the story via much tension between them all when things get awry in the bunker, which continues when the film’s twists and turns kick in. With few kills and the lack of a devout antagonist (for most of the film), good writing execution was required to keep things tense and interesting, and the writers accomplished just that.
Director Nick Hamm did a good job executing this film, with awesome sets that delivered a very engaging experience visually. The look and feel of the underground bunker was awesome, and while it was much bigger in size than it originally appeared to be it still provided a claustrophobic feel that had a heavy effect on the psyche of our characters. Speaking of characters, Thora Birch(Dark Corners, Train, Deadline) and her forehead(Dark Corners, Train, Deadline) star on this piece, alongside Desmond Harrington(Wrong Turn, Love Object, “Dexter”, Ghost Ship), Laurence Fox(Deathwatch), and Kiera Knightly, and while the execution of our characters was a bit cliche at times, none of them detrimented from the film as each played their part well, especially Desmond Harrington. I mentioned that this is not an outright horror film, and the character performances were key to providing the horror given the horror comes directly from our characters, and as a cohesive whole they accomplished just that. For a thriller to make it in the horror genre good execution will be required, and Nick Hamm gave us what we needed to a truly horrific watch in its own right.
Overall, The Hole is a great horror/thriller that gives us a truly unique story that will keep you guessing with its numerous twists and turns that eventually lead us to a climax bleeding great horror. Hamm’s direction is great and sells this piece to the viewer, making The Hole another under-appreciated film that fell under the radar after never getting the attention it deserved, and making for a recommended effort that I suggest you give a watch to.