JANUARY 10, 2012
The most interesting thing about Spiderhole is its title, which could suggest a giant spider movie from the Maneater series (but come on, they’d just call it "Spider Attack" or something), but as it’s a low budget British/Irish import starring a bunch of teens, the moniker is just sort of meaningless. It’s a very thin metaphor about the fact that a spiderhole is a term for a hole that soldiers use to conceal themselves (usually covered with branches or something), and our killer uses holes in the walls and such to get around the “abandoned” building while offing our group of squatting teens.
However, apart from the squatting backdrop, the movie is largely indistinguishable from a dozen other flicks, and director Daniel Simpson’s script squander its few interesting elements, so ultimately the title is the only thing that gives it any identity. If it was called, I dunno, “Death House” it would be impossible to remember anything about this movie in a week or so. I should note that there are also a few random shots of Daddy Long Legs crawling around to add to the “theme”.
As I was joking about on Twitter, this is one of those movies where a news report foreshadows an event that will pay off later, and our heroine is inexplicably interested in the story even though it has absolutely nothing to do with her. Early on, as she sits in a sort of daze because she can’t pay rent (me too!), she suddenly perks up when the newscaster points out that today makes the 10th anniversary of the disappearance of a little girl. As far as I can tell, she never knew her or anything, so why this would catch her ear over the other news stories is beyond me… unless you’re well versed in horror movies. Then you’ll know perfectly well that the bad things that are about to happen to them JUST MIGHT have something to do with the girl’s disappearance.
So it’s sort of funny that Simpson more or less forgets about this plot point until the final 30 seconds, when our final survivor is tossed into yet another room and we realize (spoiler) that the little girl is still alive and is now feral, living in the walls and eating the victims of our killer. Points for the grim ending, but why wasn’t this stuff brought up earlier? It doesn’t work as a twist if it’s shoehorned in like that – a less astute viewer might not even remember the first scene’s newscast part by the time this comes up at the end. If anything it just makes matters confusing: why did the killer hold on to this particular girl, when he kills everyone else pretty quickly? Was this his house, or was he a squatter himself? Why are these kids so hellbent on living in this shithole? I’d also ask what the odds were that four good friends would find themselves homeless simultaneously, but why bother?
The kills aren’t even that impressive (most of them are off-screen, in fact). The best is a telegraphed bit where two of the heroes beat one of the others to death with spiked 2x4s, thinking that he is the killer (Valentine provides the best one of these), because it’s visceral and over the top – which just makes the climax all the more obnoxious when our heroine DEFINITELY has the killer in her grasp but settles for merely conking him on the head once with a non-spiked piece of wood. What, did killing her friend take all of her energy? Does she no longer have the heart to at least make a guy bleed?
And how’s this for depressing – I actually fell asleep during the following scene, even though the movie was 5 minutes from ending (believe me, I was keeping track). Part of the movie’s dumb gimmick is that they are trapped in the house (that they had to break into in the first place! Clever!!), because he’s boarded everything up and has multiple locks on everything. So of course, when she gets to the door with his keys, she has to open a few locks and doesn’t know which key is which. The scene goes on so long that I actually “rested my eyes”, only to wake up when the movie stopped a few minutes later. Granted, I fall asleep at movies a lot, but it’s usually during the middle act when things are in between being set up and being resolved. Falling asleep during what should be the highlight of the movie is pretty much unheard of for me; even at midnight movies that I’ve seen 10 times I can manage to wake up for the finale. So I had to go back and rewatch this nonsense, which also included the big “twist” that wasn’t worth the effort.
At least it looks OK enough. Mr. Simpson is a much better director than writer, it seems – the digital image is nice despite the low light setting and he occasionally makes good use of the scope image. Even the layout of the house is clear – except when intentional, I always had a pretty good grasp of where everyone was in relation to each other, which is a common problem in these single location/multiple room movies. And the kids get along for the most part – they’re idiots and criminals, but if they also spent most of the movie hating each other I don’t know if I could get through the whole thing.
But it just doesn’t register on any level; not bad enough to qualify as a train wreck, and what little it does (relatively) right has been done better. If you want to see kids get killed, the body count is too low and kills too bland to compete even with 1980s sequels, let alone newer stuff. If you want torture, the Hostels deliver AND give decent stories to go along with them (well, the first two anyway; still haven't seen the 3rd). And hell, if you just want a killer doctor, just watch Dr. Giggles. At least the title is more fitting.
What say you?