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Spiderhole (2010)

IFC Films
DVD Released: 1/31/2012

All Ratings out of





Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/25/2012

When discussing fiction films, we sometimes talk about the "suspension of disbelief". This idea refers to how, in order to truly enjoy a movie, we must accept the reality presented by the film, no matter how absurd or unbelievable. But, some movies don't even make it to the point where "suspension of disbelief" will come into play. These films don't offer enough information for the viewer to truly get into the story, thus there's no "reality" to even question. Spiderhole is a good example of this.

Spiderhole introduces us to art-school students (?) Molly (Emma Griffiths Malin), Zoe (Amy Noble), Toby (George Maguire), and Luke (Reuben-Henry Biggs), all of whom are apparently in need of a place to live. Toby has convinced them that "squatting" is the way to go. He assures the group that while it may be illegal to break into a building, once they begin living there, they have certain rights and can't be kicked out -- therefore, they can live there for free. They load up a van and drive around London, scouting for potential locations. They decide that their second (!) stop is perfect. Toby forces the door open and the quartet do a brief exploration and then decide to party. They awaken the next day and immediately feel like they've slept too long. The front door has been bolted shut from the inside and the windows are covered in metal. They also discover that their cell phones and the tools which Toby brought are missing. Clearly someone else is in the house and it's clear that the youths are in danger.

What is it with the underwritten foreign films which have come my way lately? First there was Gorozuka, and now we have Spiderhole, a silly movie which fails from the get-go. The movie hits the ground running, something I normally like, and after a brief introduction, the gang is in the van, looking for a place to live. But, we are never told why. Are they truly homeless? Is this something that they are doing simply for the thrill of it? Are they just cheap? There is some hippieish dialogue where they talk about having a place to do their art. Again, they check out two places and go with the second one. Shouldn’t this kind of thing require more research and reconnaissance? Speaking of which, once they get into the house, they only check out a few rooms and then decide to move in. Are you kidding me? They claim that they’ll look upstairs “tomorrow”. They don’t look upstairs, but they go ahead and put a new lock on the front door. They do find a cupboard full of bloody clothes, but decide that everything will be fine. How are we supposed to feel anything for characters who are so stupid? Speaking of characters, with this four, Spiderhole covers as many stereotypes as it can. Molly is the good girl, Zoe is the slutty girl, Toby is the loud braggart, and Luke is the stand-up guy. What’s wrong, no room in the van for a nerd and the token black guy?

Following this set-up, Spiderhole becomes a somewhat lax game of cat and mouse. The DVD box gave a very vague plot description (go figure) and it claims that the group encounter a “malevolent force”. I was hoping that this meant something supernatural, but alas, it doesn’t. They are simply besieged by yet another psycho. It's interesting to note that Spiderhole is distributed by the same company which brought us the recent Cold Sweat. Both films present us with characters who suddenly find themselves trapped in a house, but the difference is that Cold Sweat at least tried to do something new and different with the concept. Spiderhole simply turns into scene after scene of the group running through the house, only to find dead ends. When it comes to why they are being stalked, the vague nature of the movie holds true, as the explanation given is thin at best. There is also a wrap-around subplot which feels tacked on and doesn't really gel. I know that there are those who like movies which don't explain the motivations for why evil occurs, but I simply view this as lazy writing.

The idea of squatting is one which we don't often see in movies and Spiderhole could have really done something with that idea. Instead, it becomes a tiresome pointless movie which never seems to be trying. Those intrigued by the words Saw and Hostel being mentioned on the box needn't apply, as the movie doesn't contain the cleverness of the former or the gore of the latter. There are no spiders in Spiderhole, but I get the feeling that an arachnid could have written a better script.

Spiderhole made me wonder why one wouldn't try to break through the walls of a house which is crumbling down around you on DVD courtesy of IFC Films. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The movie was shot on HD and it looks good, showing no intrusive grain and no defects from the source material. I'm so accustomed to low budget projects looking like home movies that it really stands out when something has decent photography. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. (Despite the fact that the characters are supposedly in total darkness. Don't get me started on that.) There is little artifacting and the image is rarely soft. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track which provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The track makes fairly good use of the story's potential, but I would have liked to have heard more stereo and surround effects. We do get some off-screen sounds coming from the various channels, but it's just enough to create a hint of mystery. A few "shock" moments bring the subwoofer into the game.

The Spiderhole DVD contains only two extras. "Interviews & Behind the Scenes" (12 minutes) is composed mostly of "fly on the wall" on set footage which shows the actors and crew at work. We do get some brief comments from the cast and the filmmakers, but this piece is hampered by odd editing (one guy is cut off mid-sentence) and the fact that none of the speakers are identified. The other extra is a TRAILER for the movie.

Review Copyright 2012 by Mike Long