This is a classic Soothsayer review I wrote back in 2001 on one of Keira Knightley’s first films. The film predates her break-thru in Bend in Like Beckham by one year. This British film also featured her first nude scene at 16 years old. It is really interesting and weird to look back on it now and see how Keira has come.
As you begin to fall into the “hole”, that is this film, you begin to see a noir-styled thriller beginning to materialize.
Thora Birch (“American Beauty”, “Dungeons & Dragons”) stars as Liz, a girl who is found by Dr. Philippa Horwood (Embeth Davidtz) after a horrifying ordeal where three other students and Liz had gone missing. With Liz being the only survivor Horwood has to believe Liz’s wild tale.
Liz tells Horwood of her friends Frankie (Keira Knightley), Mike (Desmond Harrington), and Geoff (Laurence Fox) and their weekend adventure. Liz made arrangements with a friend of hers, Martin (Daniel Brocklebank), to set-up a weekend party in a deserted underground bunker. Liz’s story takes a horrific turn when she reveals that the coeds were locked inside the bunker for much longer than they had expected. Was there foul play involved in the locking of the bunker? What was the relationship really like between Liz and her fellow classmates? And what the hell really happened within that bunker?
The film begins very cleverly as it chronicles 3 different stories of what exactly happened in the bunker. It’s interesting how each of the perspectives allows Thora Birch to showcase a different side of Liz. As the film goes towards the truth it becomes darker and darker until the final truth is revealed. The sad part is that the finale may be too dark.
Birch shows that she has a broadening range that is starting to emulate the likes of Winona Ryder and Christina Ricci. Her dark and tormented character here is perfect example of that blossoming career. I also enjoyed the performances of all the coeds who show that there is a lot of young talent coming out of England. I hope to see more of Knightley and Harrington in the future.
I have always been a fan of Davidtz but she seems to be one of these actresses who are wonderful actresses but pop up in the strangest films. She was last seen in “13 Ghosts” which was another film that didn’t deserve her. In recent years, Davidtz has however seen some parts that have been worthy of her acting. She was wonderful in “Bicentennial Man”, “Bridget Jones’ Diary” and “Mansfield Park”. In those roles you could really see her Shakespearean training showing through. I am always surprised to where she will turn up next. I first noticed her in films like “Army of Darkness” and “Schindler’s List”.
If you’re a fan of “twisted-teen-boarding-school” films or Thora Birch, I highly recommend catching “The Hole”. I however can’t recommend it for everyone.
3 out of 5
So Says the Soothsayer.
Originally Written: December 9, 2001