Neil Young’s Film Lounge – The Hole



(After the Hole)
UK 2001
director : Nick Hamm
script : Ben Court, Caroline Ip (based on novel After the Hole by Guy Burt)
cinematography : Denis Crossan
editing : Niven Howie
lead actors : Thora Birch, Desmond Harrington, Embeth Davidtz, Daniel Brocklebank
102 minutes

Proof that, when it comes to teen horror, the British can more than match anything from the other side of the water. A quartet of public school kids, desperate to avoid a geography field trip to Wales, hide out in an underground wartime bunker for a few days. But when the time comes to leave, they find the door locked, and as the hours ticks by, paranoia mounts. The subsequent bloody events are told in flashback by demure survivor Liz (Birch). But can she be as innocent as she seems?

Well, of course she can’t – there wouldn’t be much in the way of drama if she was. But even when you twig Liz has some hidden psychotic tendencies, The Hole still has a few unpredictable twists and turns lying in wait. There are occasional plot ‘holes’ and uneven spots, but it’s likely these are failings in the source novel, written when the author was himself barely out of school. Aiming for a claustrophobic, indoors twist on Blair Witch, Hamm wisely chooses to play everything totally straight, with no Wes Craven-style nods or winks to genre conventions. The movie serves up the right combination of jolts and ‘ugh’ moments, building an enjoyably unpleasant atmosphere of gnawing dread.

24th May, 2001

by Neil Young