★ / ★★★★
Four art students decide to become squatters for a semester in order to save on rent. Toby (George Maguire) claims to know the perfect place. The house is big, almost mansion-like, from the outside and, from the looks of it, no one has resided there for some time. Toby, Zoe (Amy Noble), Molly (Emma Griffiths Malin), and Luke (Reuben-Henry Biggs) are overjoyed because it is spacious enough for each of them to claim an entire floor. But the house is actually not abandoned. In one of the hidden rooms, there is a man (John Regan) who tortures his unsuspecting victims with sharp objects.
“Spiderhole,” written and directed by Daniel Simpson, is almost knowingly goofy. While it is completely ridiculous and laughable that the four friends are desperate enough to break into a home and call it their own, there is, at least initially, a campy feel in the way the characters approach their extremely flawed course of action. For instance, not one of them ever expresses concern about the availability of proper plumbing. (Wouldn’t you?) Still, I was excited for them to settle in–while keeping in mind that everything is eventually going to go very wrong–because the four of them are sleepover-ready.
They hear strange noises in the walls. They assume the reason is simply bad pipes. (They continue to ignore the plumbing situation.) Then they stumble upon bloody clothes in the cupboard. Molly even tries putting them on prior to noticing the red smeared all over. (Who puts on clothes that happen to just be there?) Disgusted, she demands to be let out. However, after a bit of assuaging each other’s panic and fear, they remain inside because they agree that it will be warmer to sleep inside than in the van. (Personally, I’d rather sleep in the park than to be in the same room with strangers’ bloody clothes.)
When they wake up, they discover someone has been through their things and has locked them in from the inside. This is the point where the picture begins to show the audience that it is not a very good movie.
There is a lot of arguing, crying, and yelling but not enough critical thinking. The four friends need not be practical but would it not have been more fun if each of them had been written to have a unique or surprising set of survival skills? As the would-be scares pile up, plenty of them exhausted and predictable, there is really no point in watching the people on screen acting scared; we don’t buy it and it doesn’t seem as though the actors believe in what they are doing either.
Further, it is not an enjoyable experience because there is no release of stress for the four friends. They are continually subjected to dead ends and as the minutes trickle by, I began to feel depressed because, clearly, the picture has no ambition but to show a bunch of people who are very likely going to end up dead.
Lastly, the villain does not make any sense. There are bits and pieces of scenes that paints him as a reluctant killer. It teases but the material is unwilling to invest the necessary amount of time and effort to develop that idea.