The Hole

April 20, 2001 0 By Fans
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

Still of Desmond Harrington and Laurence Fox in The HoleStill of Keira Knightley in The HoleStill of Thora Birch in The HoleStill of Thora Birch and Keira Knightley in The HoleThe Hole


Four teenagers at a British private school secretly uncover and explore the depths of a sealed underground hole created decades ago as a possible bomb shelter.

Release Year: 2001

Rating: 6.2/10 (22,483 voted)

Nick Hamm

Stars: Thora Birch, Desmond Harrington, Daniel Brocklebank

One misty morning, Liz Dunn stumbles down the road to her school and screams for help. A police psychologist gets her to reveal her story: A month earlier: three rebellious teenagers – Mike, Frankie and Geoff are trying to ditch the school field trip to Wales. The school nerd Martin helps them out by allowing them to stay in an old war bunker for the three days on the condition that his friend Liz joins them. The teens go down, party and have great fun but Martin doesn't return to let them out and they hope and pray that someone will find them…

Writers: Guy Burt, Ben Court


Thora Birch

Liz Dunn

Desmond Harrington

Mike Steel

Daniel Brocklebank

Martyn Taylor

Laurence Fox

Geoff Bingham

Keira Knightley

Frances 'Frankie' Almond Smith

Embeth Davidtz

Dr. Philippa Horwood

Steven Waddington

DCS Tom Howard

Emma Griffiths Malin


Jemma Powell


(as Gemma Powell)

Gemma Craven

Mrs. Dunn

Anastasia Hille


Kelly Hunter

DI Chapman

Maria Pastel


Celia Montague


Kevin Trainor

Boy in school

No exit, No key, No food, No heartbeat

Release Date: 20 April 2001

Filming Locations: Benenden Girls' School, Cranbrook, Kent, England, UK

Box Office Details

Budget: £4,158,370


Opening Weekend: £673,777
(22 April 2001)
(322 Screens)

Gross: £2,229,975
(20 May 2001)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?


The production crew only had 25 minutes to work with to shoot the underpass scene.


When the doctor drops Liz off at her house the top of the car is up, when she pulls up however the roof is down.


And then there's all those exciting exams to look forward to.

Way to look on the positive side.

No, no, no. I've got a hard-on for these exams, they're great.

You've got a hard-on for everything.

Not for you, mate.

User Review

Twisted and Enjoyable

Rating: 9/10

Four snotty rich kids at a prep school in England want to get out of a
field trip to Wales, where they would have to eat "fish paste
sandwiches" and be otherwise uncomfortable. They also don't want to get
out of the trip by just returning home over the school break. Two are
male friends, Mike Steel (Desmond Harrington), son of a rock star, and
Geoff Bingham (Laurence Fox), and two are female friends, Elizabeth
Dunn (Thora Birch) and Frances Almond Smith (Keira Knightley). Frances
and Geoff have had an intimate relationship, although any relationship
between them seems very tenuous, and Elizabeth has had a crush on Mike
for a long time; Mike was otherwise going out with another girl, but
she had just dumped him. One of them knows, or knows someone who knows,
the perfect "getaway" spot, secluded and private, just right for
promoting an intimate, extended weekend of partying–an old war bunker
deep underground in the middle of a forest. The bunker is accessed via
a circular, thick steel door, and is lined with thick reinforced
concrete. The four end up trapped in the bunker, with the door locked
and no way to get out, for at least 10 days. Who locked them in and
why? How will they get out?

If you're someone who only likes straightforward plots, traditionally
happy endings and films depicting "facts" that are close to what you
believe to be true about the actual world, you're best advised to avoid
The Hole. If you instead do not mind, or even prefer, circuitous,
twisted tales with strong fantasy elements (in this case primarily to
enable what amounts to a parable) and fairly nihilistic endings, you
may find much to love here. Reflecting the film's overall ambiguity,
The Hole resides in a gray genre area between thriller, psychological
horror and a straight-ahead drama. The first half hour or so is much
more straightforward, and for me, the film was cruising along at about
an 8 for at least that length of time. But as it progressed and things
became much more bizarre and "evil", my score gradually rose, with the
extended climax being a firm 10 for me. So my rating on this one is
more of an average.

The plot, from a screenplay by first time (and only time so far)
scripters Ben Court and Caroline Ip, based on a novel by Guy Burt, is
unusual for being told primarily from unreliable characters'
perspectives. We learn most of the story through the testimony of a
victim–Elizabeth, and a primary suspect, Martyn Taylor (Daniel
Brocklebank), who may in fact be a friend of Elizabeth's. Their
accounts change as the film progresses, often framing different
characters as victims and perpetrators, and the bulk of what we see on
screen are depictions of these changing accounts. Thus we see some
"repeating" material. It's important to show parts of the story again
as the supposed facts about the story change.

Stemming from this, it's easy to see that the performances are quite
good. Most characters undergo subtle alterations for the different
instantiations of the story, and the four principals–Birch,
Harrington, Fox and Knightley–adeptly transform themselves, aided also
by their clothing, hair and makeup.

Court and Ip cleverly do not change the scenario as much as you might
expect after the first couple variations. It keeps you on your toes as
to just who the perpetrator was, but also enables a surprising and
in-depth exploration of the psychotic personality and motivation behind
the "lock-in"–whoever the perpetrator was (and I certainly won't
reveal the film's answer here), they were clearly somewhat insane.
We're also led to be skeptical about the material that's relayed from
an ostensibly third-person point of view. It's never clear for most
events just what is meant to be "objective" and true versus what is
still the potential fantasy of the storyteller. Personally, I love that
kind of ambiguity. Some others do not like it so much.

The Hole is also a bit of an exploration of spoiled kids. All of the
main characters are manipulators who are used to getting whatever they
want. They all seem to have an attitude that their intellect is far
superior to almost every one else, and thus they're entitled to
whatever they desire, as well as justified in whatever it takes to get
it–that's a classic disposition of many criminals, and not a few
business leaders, politicians, Internet geeks and so on. It's notable
that when the students' parents appear (which is very seldom), they are
distant and mostly dissociated from their offspring, who have come to
rule the roost as far as we can tell. The investigators trying to piece
together the case come to know this, although they never directly state
as much, but the performers give very subtle clues to their complex
realizations as the story goes on. We can see them also gradually
losing hope that they'll be able to properly sort the events out and
reveal the truth.

The Hole can be seen as a parable about how far some may go to get what
they want, as well as how far co-conspirators may go before they try to
divorce themselves from events gone wrong (there are clues throughout
the film that other characters had various levels of knowledge and
involvement). It's also an exploration of what makes some go as far as
they do and what makes conspirators play along. At the same time it
comments on the bewilderment of "outsiders" trying to figure out how
some horrific event developed. A lot of the answers are appropriately
ambiguous. Under the guises of the subtexts, as well as on a more
visceral surface level, the film is a great success.