Film Review: The Hole (2001)

SYNOPSIS:

Four teenagers at a British private school secretly uncover and explore the depths of a sealed underground hole created decades ago as a possible bomb shelter.

REVIEW:

The movie “The Hole” is a great example of an off-the-radar release that didn’t really catch much attention till years later (mostly as a cut out bin inclusion). I remember seeing the title and then having to acquire an overseas version to actually own one. Since its debut in 2001, it has been made available for purchase and rentals with its most recent inclusion being a worthy Bluray release by Echo Bridge Entertainment. Off the bat you will notice the inclusion of 3 actors who have certainly gone on to much bigger roles and opportunities (Thora Birch, Desmond Harrington, and Keira Knightley) Yep, one of Keira Knightley’s significant earlier roles before the wave of “Pirates of the Caribbean” came on radar. In short “The Hole” is a great mystery-horror-thriller using the idea of isolation to its effect (and also before many of the isolation theme films came into play).

A hotzy totzy school with an overabundance of blonds provides the perfect “English” setting for this nightmare grind. Liz Dunn (Thora Birch) has one of “those” issues completely obsessed with one of the school boys (Mike Steel (Desmond Harrington) while the other (her best friend) Martyn Taylor (Daniel Brocklebank) is hopelessly trying to gain her attention. When she gets the opportunity to spend a getaway weekend in a situation with Mike and 2 coeds, it’s just the kind of visibility she’s been looking for to perhaps garner his affection. Liz is joined by Geoff Bingham (Laurence Fox) and the hottie-accented Frances ‘Frankie’ Almond Smith (Keira Knightley)

While the result of this fatale attraction becomes a bit more than a love-obsessed crush would probably escalate to, it still is interesting to see the results of a small group of students (4 to be exact) and what transpires when they are held in isolation (trapped) beyond their will. To bring you more up to speed, Martyn lures them to an old bomb shelter where the 4 students agree to spend 3 days away from school on a falsified vacation leave (they were input as going to Wales).

Now the goal is simple….partying and freedom, but what they find is that Martyn has more diabolical intentions for them. Or does he?

Intentions that he feels compelled to test against the results. The film sets a model for the famed
“lock em up and come back later ” theme scenario which would later go onto to a variety of different “like” situations” in other movies (perfectly suited for the horror genre).

The film begins with Liz running back to her dorm room and then being questioned by the local authorities. Her tale is told to one of the investigators, psychiatrist Dr. Phillipa Horwood (Embeth Davidtz) which sets the stage for what just transpired. The glory of this film is that our assumptions are sealed from the get go in this confessional retelling. However as clues start to get confused and Martyn Taylor is suspected without any real evidence, the film takes a direction turn with more confessions soon to follow. Liz is brought back to the location by Dr. Phillipa Horwood who hopes to jar her memory into telling what “really” transpired. The previous confession just didn’t fit what the evidence suggested and so Liz is prompted for a better explanation (one that fits reality and not her fantasy version).

The flashback retelling shows the group suffering from a series of emotional turns, starvation, thirst and the eventual slow maddening of senses in their isolated state. All the while, Liz remains focused on getting Mike to fall in love with her.

The movie “The Hole” certainly has its twists as we learn of Liz’s obsession and a plan we didn’t see coming. Her obsession with Mike invokes a series of decisions that proves to be fatal for 3 of the captives. Beautifully orchestrated, this horror thriller soon evolves into a superb mystery tale that keeps you informed right up to the end. Thora Birch takes the lead in “The Hole” despite being among such early mega talents. She was reported at the time to be the highest paid in the film with a 7-figure salary.

“The Hole proves to be a heavy psychological journey that roots its entire production in the UK. The locations were reported on Wikipedia as such: “The film was shot largely in and around Downside School, in Somerset, UK, with some scenes shot at Reading Blue Coat School in Reading, UK and others filmed at The Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe in High Wycombe, UK. “The Hole” was severely underrated but gained more traction in later years following its release.

The Hole” is now available on bluray per Echo Bridge Entertainment

The Hole (2001)

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