Published Nov 01, 2001The Hole is a stylish British teen thriller that far exceeds any of its recent American counterparts in the genre. It relies not on exploitation, gratuitous violence, or campy spoof, but rather shrouds its story from the outset in mystery and misdirection, then slowly reveals small fragments until the truth finally becomes clear. The film deals with a police investigation to uncover the events of the disappearance of four students of an elite private school. The students, in an effort to ditch the school field trip, made arrangements to hide out in a forgotten wartime underground bunker for a weekend party, but were locked in long past the point of a practical joke by a disturbed fellow classmate with an obsessive love for one of those trapped inside.
The focus of the film is on Liz (Thora Birch, in fine form with a surprisingly decent English accent), a survivor of the ordeal so traumatised by the experience that her memory of what happened is not entirely trustworthy. Knowing that what we can't see but can only imagine is far scarier than what we actually see, director Nick Hamm (The Very Thought of You) wisely only hints at any kind of violence for much of the movie. It's this classic approach coupled with the well-constructed plot that successfully builds the anticipation throughout the film. The final revelations are effectively chilling too, perhaps because they are rooted in the psychological and physical conditions of the environment rather than relying on the supernatural.