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The Hole
The Hole
Actors: Thora Birch, Desmond Harrington, Daniel Brocklebank, Laurence Fox, Keira Knightley
Director: Nick Hamm
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
R     2004     1hr 42min

This suspenseful psychological thriller features hot young stars Thora Birch (GHOST WORLD, AMERICAN BEAUTY), Desmond Harrington (GHOST SHIP), and a hip, edgy cast! When Liz Dunn (Birch) and three of her prep school friend...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Thora Birch, Desmond Harrington, Daniel Brocklebank, Laurence Fox, Keira Knightley
Director: Nick Hamm
Creators: Andrea Calderwood, Bill Shephard, François Ivernel, Jeremy Bolt, Ben Court, Caroline Ip, Guy Burt
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Buena Vista Home Video
Format: DVD - Color,Widescreen - Closed-captioned,Dubbed
DVD Release Date: 10/19/2004
Original Release Date: 01/01/2001
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2001
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 1hr 42min
Screens: Color,Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English, French

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Member Movie Reviews

Sheila C. from TIRO, OH
Reviewed on 10/5/2009...
This is a classic thriller movie, but also has obsession, and betreyall that keeps you guessing till the end, and it has Keira Knightly before she was so well known.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Going underground
bonsai chicken | United States | 12/11/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"As THE HOLE opens, a dirty, dissheveled girl stumbles into town, looking with every step as if she won't make it much further. By the time she finally reaches a phone and dials emergency, she is so traumatized that all she can do is scream.

What we know is this: over holiday, four prep school students decided to have a very private party in an abandoned underground shelter out in the woods. They were down there for eighteen days. But what really happened to them will be revealed gradually over the course of the film as Liz (Thora Birch), the girl from the opening scenes, plays cat and mouse with a psychiatrist (Embeth Davidtz) who is trying to get her to tell her story.

This is a twisty thriller with great acting on all parts. Thora Birch's fake English accent grated on me at first, probably just because I know she's not English, but as the film progressed I didn't notice it so much. It also becomes clear that she was the right choice for this particular role.

The DVD includes director's commentary, in which he talks about sets, censorship, the psychological motivations of the main character, and uses the word "oblique" a lot. It was not exactly lively, but it was moderately interesting. There are also some deleted scenes and an alternate ending. The corpselike image of Keira Knightly on the cover of this release is misleading, as she's hardly the star, though her fans will definitely want to check the film out. (I have seen much more appropriate in-store copies that have Keira and Thora sharing cover space.)"
Four teenagers locked in an abandoned bomb shelter...
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 10/21/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Four English prep school students decide to skip a weekend field trip and hide out in an abandoned bomb shelter where they can hang out and party all night long. Sure, this sounds sort of stupid, but these teenagers see it as the best private party of their life, "absolutely extra curricular" as one of them puts it. However, when the weekend is over and the door is supposed to open it does not, and the four find out that they are locked in. Who locked them in? Will they be discovered? Can they find another way out? What will happen when they run out of food and water? How long before they start to turn on each other?

Since the film opens with one of the four stumbling into the deserted school we know that they were down in that hole for eighteen days. However, the expectation that this 2001 film will take us back through those 18 days from start to finish quickly turns out to be a false one. "The Hole" is more of a mystery than a survival drama. The teenager who stumbled into the school, Liz Dunn (Thora Birch), is seeing a psychologist, Dr. Philippa Horwood (Embeth Davidtz), who is trying to find out what happened. Liz tells the story of what happened, but Horwood knows that it is not the truth and that the girl has sanitized it as a way of preserving her sanity. We know the story is not the truth because when the group descends into the bomb shelter director Nick Hamm keeps focusing on a part of the chain ladder that is obviously dangerously week. It plays not part in Liz's story, so we will just have to keep revisiting the story until it does.

In addition to Liz the others in the hole are Mike Steel (Desmond Harrington), the spoiled son of an American rock star whom Liz has a crush on, Frankie Smith (Keira Knightley), Liz's best friend, and Geoff Bingham (Laurence Fox), who really more of Frankie's potential boy toy than actual boyfriend. The quartet are brought to the bomb shelter by Martyn Taylor (Daniel Brocklebank), the male friend of Liz's who wants to be more than a friend. He is the obvious suspect for why the four kids are locked in the hole, especially for DCS Tom Howard (Steven Waddington), but obvious means little in this film.

While the mystery of "what really happened" gets in the way from time to time because since we know Liz's first story is not the truth we have to question everything that comes after that point, there are some horrific moments in this film having to do with being locked in a hole to die. In that regard "The Hole" has a couple of gruesome moments that are going to stick with you, having more of a visceral effect than the blood and gore associated with all the slick money-making Hollywood horror movies (I also have to comment that all the adolescent males who check out this film because they heard Keira Knightley does nudity are going to be disappointed twice, the first time because of brevity and the second because of context). There are also moments of how horrible human beings can be, such as when Liz talks while Frankie is puking her guts out.

"The Hole" makes excellent use of the simple but ominous music by Clint Mansell even before the company credit fades to black and the opening credits are revealed by the trembling, searching beam of a flashlight. I think this film certainly gets you hooked, and how much you like it in the end will depend entirely on your satisfaction with the explanation for why this happened. For me it was just a bit too cute and undercut the horror show aspects, taking us back to an area that has been overdone in such films. But it certainly does have its moments, all of them being in the hole and not back in the real world, and avoids the rampant stupidity that afflicts so many movies in this genre. The result is not great, but it is well above average and for anybody looking for something new to watch to creep them out on Halloween night this year, "The Hole" should not disappoint."
Great But Not for Everyone
Only-A-Child | 06/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Caution: Spoilers Ahead!!

I have to credit IMDB for my discovery of this fascinating film, as the number of comments posted about "The Saw" proclaiming it a poor imitation of "The Hole" convinced me to purchase the DVD. Not a particularly hard sell because Thora Birch is rapidly climbing to the top of my most talented actress list; so watch out Mia Kirshner and Sarah Polley.

What I especially like now about this former child actress is her ability to de-tune her sexiness. This allows her to believably-physically play the "plain Jane" to beauties like Scarlett Johansson and Kiera Knightley, while on another level actually being sexier. The appeal of this is that it allows you to imagine that you are the only one in the audience picking up on that other level, thereby making it seem like a exclusive connection.

As has already been much discussed, the trailer for "The Hole" is completely wrong for the movie, making it seem like a slasher film when it a subtle psychological thriller of obsession and misdirection. It illustrates what obsession can produce when taken a step too far. Probably the most chilling scene is the nightclub rest room parody where Liz (Birch) is gleefully prattling on about her seduction of Mike to her girlfriend Frankie (Knightley), utterly oblivious and unconcerned that Frankie is deathly ill.

Another great scene is the one used by the director to set up Liz's friend Martin for the blame, Liz is speaking to Martin about what it is like to love someone but not have them know you exist. Martin says everything with his face as he lets you know that this just how he feels about Liz.

Director Nick Hamm has pieced together a textbook example of misdirection and the ability of filmmakers to show you only what they want you to see. All the flashbacks (and there are a lot) are POV situations with varying degrees of truth. In this regard Hamm is quite respectful of the audience, manipulating the viewer up to a point but then allowing them free rein to invest each development with their own interpretation. Some have found the ending too predictable because it does not have a twist. But twists have become so obligatory that no twist is a twist. Having Liz win in the end and then going out on her eye contact is simply perfect. Not only does this parallel her claim to have finally picked the lock and escaped, it gives the kind off kilter resolution that the film needs for structural unity. If Peyton had won in "The Hand that Rocks the Cradle", that film would have been a classic instead of just another example of a thriller than ultimately falls short.

"The Hole" is really more character study than thriller, and the character of Liz with her obsession and evolving motivations is as compelling as Hitchcock's "Marnie". Liz does not plan the deaths of her schoolmates, she is just desperately going after something and things happen. She gets herself trapped in the situation and just goes with it because after a point she has no way out. The two scenes where Mike cruelly rejects her are riveting as Birch artfully starts to show us that Liz is wrapped a little too tight-something no one expected until that point. After that her character's issues are slowly revealed layer by layer.

It is interesting that even after those rejections, if Mike had just agreed to go with her for pizza, she would not have locked the exit. Ironically, a bit later his tender support of her causes her to postpone unlocking the exit. This kind of on-the-fence waiting to topple structure makes this a cerebral film viewing exercise.

While not normal, Liz is believable. Mike's death disturbs her but on reflection she realizes that it is actually for the best. She was able to get him to fall in love with her but is realistic enough even in her madness to realize that they had no future together. She is pretty much insane after leaving the hole but as she recovers her memory the instinct for self-preservation kicks in.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child."