CONTAINS SOME SPOILERS
Before seeing this I was told via Twitter that it was the worst film of 2010: high condemnation given the existence of the woeful Basement and the frankly uninteresting remake of A Nightmare On Elm Street. Well, it's certainly not a fraction as bad. While it's certainly not a classic or even a repeat rental, it's prime Carpenter or Cronenberg in comparison to some recent "offerings", including the amateur fartfest that was The Scar Crow. And though it may not have anything innovative or memorable about it, it is at the very least made by people who know one end of a camera from the other.
In Spiderhole, four homeless art students decide to claim squatters' rights by pitching up a spooky-looking derelict house: such a bad idea it's actually hard to maintain sympathy for people that clinically thick. Nonetheless, they break in using boltcutters (incidentally voiding those squatters' rights they keep banging on about) and snuggle up to each other with the bottle of wine they conveniently found. Except, of course, They Are Not Alone - they wake the next morning to find the windows and doors are welded shut, they've been drugged, their mobiles are missing and their van is moved away. Then one by one they're abducted and tortured or dismembered in the basement. But why? Who? Will any of them survive? Will you still care by that point?
The identity of the maniac isn't really important, frankly, and his rationale is only sketched in, leaving you to fill in the psychological blanks. You could argue that the rationale behind Leatherface is similarly ignored, but with the best will in the world, this is no Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It's trying to be a nasty-edged, low budget British-Irish horror movie with some gruesome gore moments and generally it succeeds in its modest aims. There are the usual stupid moments - the heroine not killing the maniac when she has the chance - and the usual characterisation that fails to rouse much sympathy; when they realise what's happening to them there's a lot - a lot - of screaming and shouting in panic, which isn't much fun to watch.
It's not terrible; it's just not very good. The cover claims "If you liked Hostel and Saw, you'll like this", which is frankly untrue. Although Spiderhole does boast some pleasantly horrible gore moments, one very funny shot of the second girl's dismembered legs being tossed behind a door, one nicely effective jump moment, and an effective ending that's perhaps a touch too sudden. The characters aren't quite hateful enough to have you praying they all take an early bath, and it's well enough shot that the night scenes are visible without being obviously lit. Can't say I'm champing to see it again, but I remained thoroughly unannoyed. And tragically that's something to be proud of these days. Damn, the bar's low. Then you think back to The Scar Crow and realise how easily the low bar can still be missed.
Here it is: