Shallow Grave Movie Review

The biggest favor you can do your senses this week is see Shallow Grave, a slick British thriller cut with the blackest comedy to hit theaters since Reservoir Dogs. Utterly hilarious in that British way, Shallow Grave is the tale of three roommates, Juliet, Alex, and David, in search of a fourth.

From the get-go, this film begins to close its fingers around your neck and never lets go. The eerie feeling that something is just not quite right is present from the beginning, even before things take a turn for the worse. Of course they inevitably do, when the trio's newly found roommate, Hugo, suddenly dies in his room. Lo and behold, next to the body the three find a suitcase containing a million pounds, and after some debate, they decide to keep it and bury its previous owner in--you guessed it--a shallow grave.

Soon, gangsters start looking for the missing Hugo, coming ever-closer to our heroes. Ewan McGregor is the rough-and-tumble reporter. Kerry Fox is the mildly uptight medical doctor. And most memorably, Christopher Eccleston is the extremely uptight accountant... who ultimately reveals a strange penchant for violence. Eventually the precarious house of cards starts to crumble: The police start closing in, and to make matters worse, each character begins to lose his or her light-hearted sensibility, becoming more neurotic, sinister, or traitorous as the net tightens. Steel yourself for the unthinkable ending--it's beyond even the famed hypodermic needle scene from Pulp Fiction.

Fans of Donna Tartt's novel The Secret History will find a lot to like here. Shallow Grave has all the elements of a great thriller. It's not perfect, but it's close. Director Danny Boyle has learned the best secrets of filmmaking, mainly from Alfred Hitchcock. On one hand the story is disquietingly real and straightforward, but at the same time it's deeply intriguing. I was literally on the edge of my seat.

Spreadsheets, old fashioned style.


Shallow Grave Rating

" Essential "

Rating: R, 1995


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