The Hole (15)

Review by Tracy-Lee Driscoll

DVD FEATURES: Scene access; director's commentary; nine deleted scenes; subtitles in French and Dutch.

IMAGINE four lusty teenagers trapped in a WWII bunker for two weeks with barely any food or water to sustain them. Add to this the fact that their story can only be seen after the event through the eyes of an amnesia-ridden schoolgirl. This is The Hole, a twisted and knarled, and somewhat laughable, teen thriller. American Beauty's Thora Birch leads the cast as Liz, a staid plummy English schoolgirl.

When Liz is found battered and bloody, after being missing for two weeks along with three other pupils from her exclusive boarding school, everyone wants to know the truth about what happened to them. As the only witness to the horror which they have endured, she is coaxed by a sympathetic policewoman (Embeth Davidz) to tell her story. But fact and fiction become almost inextricably fused as the traumatised Liz tries to piece together her shredded memory of the gruesome fortnight. The only certainty that the police have is that the kids decided to bunk off from a school trip and spend their time in the eponymous hole - a great grey hobbit located under school grounds complete with severe lighting and a lockable porthole door.

Although the place becomes quite cosy when the four of them first settle in, especially after they add some of their personal knick-knacks (inflatable pink chairs and the such), what should have been a three day adventure complete with camping stoves and candlelit ghost stories, soon turns into a nightmare when the teens discover that they are trapped and that they all face the unwholesome prospect of never seeing sunlight again.

The tale as told by Liz continually spins around her intense puppy-love for Mike (Desmond Harrington), her American ``son of a rock star'' cell-mate who she relentlessly tries to win over, even when they are both facing the most fantastical gore. The relationship makes its sickly progression and tensions run high as teen hormones mix up with terror and mystery which bubble up like sulphur as the plot thickens.

The other two kids, played by Keira Knightley (Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace) and Laurence Fox, provide a highly sexed backdrop to Liz's frustrations. All of the characters could do with some more self to fatten them up a bit, but in this film, as is often the case with movies of this genre, character takes a back seat to action.

The Hole, shamelessly hanging on to the shirt tales of The Blair Witch Project, does a fine job of depicting the squalor and nasty funk of the imprisoning cavity, but it does lack something in script. The story, adapted from a novel by Guy Burt, although intriguing, lacks punch and gets a bit familiar with predictability. But, this isn't to say it's not worth a watch. The cast is strong enough and there are many genuinely funny and compelling moments.

It will probably make you jump and definitely make you feel queasy. Which is kind of the whole point.