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The Hole

In The Hole, four teenagers (two guys and two girls) play hooky from a private school field trip by hiding out in an abandoned bomb shelter. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Surprisingly, this movie doesn’t go down the path this plotline suggests. I sat down to watch this movie knowing nothing about its premise. I first thought it was a horror movie, then a suspense thriller, and ultimately I don’t really know how to classify it; perhaps a mixture of both. The Hole opens with the introduction of Liz (Thora Birch), a bedraggled and stunned girl who shuffles like a zombie down the hallway of an older-looking school. She passes fliers on the wall that lists four missing teenagers, one of them who is apparently her. She manages to find a phone, calls an operator, screams, and passes out.

With the gentle prodding of psychologist Dr. Horwood (Embeth Davidtz), Liz tells her tale of being the school wallflower and being in love with popular school jock Mike (Desmond Harrington). With the help of male friend Martyn (Daniel Brocklebank), she managed to contrive a situation where she, Mike, popular girl Frankie (Keira Knightley) and her occasional boyfriend Geoff (Laurence Fox), skip out on a school trip by camping out in a nearby old abandoned bomb shelter. After three days they all expect that Martyn will be by to let them out (it’s locked). He never does.

Elizabeth tells Dr. Horwood the entire story of the eighteen days she and her acquaintances were in the hole, but something doesn’t completely jibe with her story, especially when Martyn is brought in for questioning.

I found this downbeat little movie to be an enjoyable little suspense thriller that contains a few surprises. It is difficult to discuss any of the themes without ruining said surprises, however. I will just say that the story is ultimately about unbalanced obsession, which is a fascinating topic for any one who ever spent way too much time thinking about someone else.

On the downside, the characters are somewhat underwritten and the ending is a little thin (I doubt that English police are truly that stupid). However, like many European movies, the sexuality is actually sexual (unlike American movies which seem nowadays to be somewhat neutered). Oh, and despite all the ballyhoo about Keira Knightley’s boobie shot, far more male nudity abounds (bless you, Brits!).

Ultimately it is the story that holds you in as you try to sort out fact from fiction (within the context of the movie). Even when Elizabeth ultimately decides to tell the truth, some of the new pieces she adds in don’t completely fit with what we learned about her character before. I like the idea of not knowing the entire truth. The best thing about this disk is that it actually exists. I had never even heard about this movie when I opted to review it (I thought I was going to review that children’s movie, Holes). The sound and picture are fine; sometimes I have a hard time understanding characters with accents but I had no problem here (in all fairness the accents were English upper-class neutral to these American ears. Compare that to the accents in Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels where I was reduced to turning on the subtitles to understand what was being said). American Thora Birch, by the way, had an acceptable accent I suppose. I’m better at catching British actors trip up on their American accents. Yes, Ewan, I’m looking at you.

The extras are nothing to write home about: the deleted scenes add nothing and serve to applaud the director for his editing choices. The deleted scene that is a ‘six months later’ deal was a wise choice for removal because its addition would have robbed some of the movie of its ambiguity. The disk also has a still gallery: however, these galleries are still batting .000 when it comes to holding my interest. The original theatrical trailer is a great example of misleading trailers, emphasizing the story’s horror movie trappings. The director’s commentary suffers from ‘narrate the movie’ syndrome.

The Hole is worth a view as it held my interest. On the other hand its lack of sympathetic characters and too much plot contrivance makes it one of those movies I doubt I will feel compelled to watch again. It makes a good rental if you can’t find any thing else on the shelves.