Everyone loves fish bowls. If they DIDN'T there'd be no Sea World and Shamu would have to circle Carnival Cruise ships with an over-sized tin cup for tips. Humans are just natural gawkers. Always have been. And we'll stare at pretty much anything, so long as there's a minute potential for drama (a.k.a. Betrayal. Jealousy. Fondling.) How else could reality TV get so dang popular?! Eleven seasons of "The Real World" can't be a fluke. It's also big in the movies. Pin folks up and watch the pretty, pretty fireworks! Like in The Thing, Lord of the Flies, or heck, even the classic 12 Angry Men! Sooner or later someone's sticking their finger in someone else's peanut butter or roasting someone on a spit. That's just how these situations go and audiences inevitably eat it up. So when four horn'd up teens decide to lock themselves away in The Hole* (2001, 102 minutes) the ensuing mayhem isn't exactly SURPRISING, but CineSchlockers will STILL want to know which fishies diddle who and whose mangled corpses get scooped out at the end with that little dipper-net thing.
The movie: Just how far will a gal go to catch a fella's eye? Well, chances are mighty good Liz (Thora Birch) will win the devotion prize. She pines for Mike (Desmond Harrington) the stud in residence at an uppity British boarding school where rich folks send their little tax write offs. Somehow or another, depending on who you ask, she finds herself in an abandoned bomb shelter with Mike, the focal point of her throbbing obsession, his buddy Geoff (Laurence Fox) and her babe-o-licious gal pal Frankie (Keira Knightley). At first things aren't so bad. The place looks like a forgotten subway station complete with electric lights and their choice of either a toilet or wall urinals. That's until their plot to avoid an undesirable school excursion backfires when they discover they're TRAPPED underground with next to no hope of discovery. Their devolution is speedy and pronounced. Yet all Liz can really concern her with is, "Does Mike want to touch my goodies?" She's prepared to wait as long as it takes until he DOES and things get downright MEDIEVAL in the meantime. Given a moment's ponderance, CineSchlockers will draw an easy comparison to a popular mainstream flick of similar narrative style, but far superior execution. Admirers of Ms. Birch will sadly have to ogle her in American Beauty once more, as her eventual petting party with Mr. Harrington doesn't involve any gratuitous nekkidness. Thankfully, Ms. Knightley doesn't share such inhibitions.
Notables: Two breasts. Four corpses. Buzzing flies. Therapeutic breathing. Diddling. Gratuitous geekazoid computer whiz. Inflatable sofa. Boozing. Puking. Wiggling maggots. Multiple wangdoodles. Flashlight war.
Quotables: Liz emotes, "Mike Steel! American! The son of a rock star! The missing part of my soul!!!" Mike indulges in some verbal foreshadowing when speaking of the hole, "It looks like a tomb!" Martin (Daniel Brocklebank) bristles at Liz' lack of romantic interest in him, "BUT I'M NOT GAY!"
Time codes: Queen Amidala's double does the school girl strut (8:06). Behold -- THE HOLE! (18:05). The Trapped in a Hole Theatre Company performs to an audience of one (37:25). Freeze-frame pervert's delight (55:18). Liz finally gets her long-awaited lovin' (1:15:45).
Audio/Video: Presented in a W-I-D-E-S-C-R-E-E-N transfer (2.35:1) that's amazingly free of digital pixelation common to dimly-lit scenes. Utilitarian Dolby Digital 2.0 track. A 5.1 track might have brought some interesting aural depth to the subterranean footage.
Extras: Earnest, well-paced commentary by director Nick Hamm in which he champions Ms. Birch's influence on the flick, as well as that of novelist Guy Burt (even though they totally ditched his ending). Hamm also makes mention of several alternative scenes and cuts made to the flick which are thoughtfully INCLUDED on the disc. Now there's a concept. Be certain to check out the ridiculous epilogue that thankfully didn't make the theatrical run. Typical still gallery is upgraded into a photo montage. Animated menus with audio. Cast bios. Theatrical trailer, plus reels on Mexico City (with CineSchlocker fave Robert Patrick), Eye of the Beholder and Fourth Angel.
Final thought: Twisted tale of twisted folks who foolishly land themselves in a twisted predicament with reasonably entertaining -- and twisted -- results. Recommended.
* This "Deluxe Special Edition" is exclusive to Canada, which means you'll have to purchase it from one of the many e-tailers from the Great White North like Chapters.ca, EntertainMe.ca or ABSound.ca. When you charge by credit card the currency conversion is automatic and will be roughly $10 less than the total in Canadian dollars.
G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.