The Hole (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Scoop's notes (written in 2003)

The film opens with a bloodied girl staggering along a flower-strewn country lane. She walks past "missing" posters with her own picture on them. She stumbles through a school, makes her dazed way to a pay phone, reaches an emergency number, and just begins screaming until she passes out. She and three other public school teenagers have been missing for weeks. She seems to be the only one who survived an ordeal in a bomb shelter. The police psychologist tries to find out what happened, and the story is recounted in flashbacks.

The girl (Thora Birch with an English accent) blames her geeky male friend, claiming that camping out in the hole for the weekend was all part of a plot she and the geek concocted to get a cool guy to notice her. The geeky guy was supposed to let everyone out at the end of the weekend, but simply let them stay in the hole for weeks, because of some personal agenda involving jealousy and his own crush on Thora.

OK, we think, that makes some sense, but where will the movie go from here? Is it really about the police capturing the geeky guy? No, not at all. They capture him almost immediately, and it seems there wasn't much truth to Thora's story. In fact, the main problem with the story is that it couldn't have happened at all. On the day that he was supposed to have locked the others in the hole, Mr Geek can account for every single minute of his time. When he was supposed to be locking the door to the hole, he was being picked up by his mum in faraway London. Witnesses can verify every bit of his story. The police let both Thora and the geek go free.

Then we see the two of them meeting secretly and arguing. We hear only snippets of a conversation about betrayal. Just what did happen, and if they are in collusion why is there no agreement between their stories? Is it a double-cross of some kind? We eventually get to what really happened, but I can't tell you the rest, because the resolution is the essence of the movie.

This is quite an effective and tidy British thriller which was never released theatrically in the USA. (It was released in England before Keira Knightley became known internationally.) The script completely sucks the audience in with the first version of the story. We never suspect that anything is amiss until the geek seems to have an airtight alibi. Then, when we see that the geek and Thora are in some kind of collusion, we are hooked on the mystery. The explanation is not without some holes, but they don't matter so much because of the consistent tone and palpable sense of mystery. One of the reasons that the film works is that it uses no gimmicks at all. The hole doesn't shelter any carnivorous creatures or supernatural entities. It doesn't flood, and the inhabitants never run out of air. There are no technical problems of any significance. The only things that go wrong during the isolation are inherent in human nature, ala Lord of the Flies. The only evil in it lurks within the human soul.

The atmosphere is as effective as the story-telling. The scenes in the hole are spooky. The old bomb shelter is all rusted-out pipes and creaky noises, and a mysterious small opening which sends down the sunlight, which is eclipsed when somebody walks by, each eclipse promising a rescue. The lighting inside is sparse and undependable. The background music consists mostly of rumbling sounds in the lowest audible register, tones which resonate under our skins and in our sub-conscious. The director, Nick Hamm, was a highbrow stage director for years, including several years with the Royal Shakespeare Company. He then cut his teeth on film direction by doing TV shows (usually highbrow material again). He learned pacing and economy and a sense of universal appeal by doing TV commercials. All of that paid off with a skillful, creepy film.



  • No features
  • the transfer is anamorphically enhanced, and is not especially vivid



Keira Knightley shows her breasts twice. There are additional angles in the deleted scenes.

Laurence Fox does full frontal and rear nudity in a shower scene.

Tuna's notes (written in 2007)

The Hole (2001) is a thriller starring Thora Birch, Keira Knightley, Desmond Harrington and Laurence Fox. As the film opens, we see an obviously worse-for-wear woman running down a country lane. She enters a stately school, dials a phone number, and screams. We realize it is Thora Birch, she is in a public school, and she had been missing, along with three other students.

Cut to Thora being questioned by a shrink.

Let me give a spoiler warning here. I recommend this film, and would hate to spoil this for anyone who might want to see it.

As her story unfolds, we learn something about what has happened. Four students decided to spend their spring break locked in an abandoned bunker to avoid a field trip or going home. Her story is clearly not the entire one, however, as we still don't know what has happened to the other three students. We do learn that she evidently had something to do with planning the stay in the bunker, and did so to get next to the biggest heartthrob in the school. When the three days ended, the guy who helped her plan it didn't show up to let them out. We then move through other versions of the story, and discover that the other three students are dead. Thora's first version implicates her friend Daniel Brockleback as the murderer.

End Spoilers

Think of this as "Lord of the Flies meets Rashomon." I enjoyed the narrative structure far more than if it had been told linearly, and found the film genuinely involving. All leads gave strong performances.

The Critics Vote

  • BBC 3/5

The People Vote ...

  • IMDB summary. IMDb voters score it 6.3/10. That score holds across all the demographics.
  • It grossed about three million dollars in the UK and a similar amount in Spain.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, Scoop says, "This is a C+. Tense, captivating genre film with a consistent tone, and a solid visual style." Tuna says, "This is a C. Most genre lovers found it satisfactory."

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