Shallow Grave (1994)

8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Good first outing by Boyle and McGregor


Movie Info

Movie Name:  Shallow Grave

Studio:  Channel Four Films/The Glasgow Film Fund/Figment Films

Genre(s):  Drama/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):  May 17, 1994 (Cannes)/January 6, 1995 (UK)/February 10, 1995 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

shallow grave suitcase of money kerry fox christopher eccleston ewan mcgregor

Hugo might have actually been the best roommate

Juliet Miller (Kerry Fox), David Stephens (Christopher Eccleston), and Alex Law (Ewan McGregor) are seeking a new roommate and love playing games about it.  When they decide to bring in Hugo (Keith Allen) they don’t know that Hugo is a criminal and he’s holding a suitcase full of stolen money.  When Hugo dies unexpectedly, they decide to keep the money and dispose of the body…but their actions have consequences.

Directed by Danny Boyle, Shallow Grave is a suspense thriller.  Boyle’s first movie was released at Cannes and received positive reviews.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #616).

I remember seeing Shallow Grave soon after the release of Trainspotting.  Boyle was a hot, up-and-coming director when new art-house directors were just popping.  With a young cast, Shallow Grave is a fun rewatch.

shallow grave christopher eccleston attic

You always have that one roommate that can’t handle chopping up another roommate…

The movie goes from rather light to incredibly dark.  It is a bit of a mix of “The Tell-Tale Heart” mixed with “Heart of Darkness” mixed with The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.  The injection of money causes betrayal, madness, and death.  It is a classic story, but it is also a story that is classic because it goes deep into emotions and the make-up of people.

The movie is an odd film in that even at the onset, the characters aren’t very likable.  It is Ewan McGregor’s first film and his character seems almost like a sociopath when the film begins (he seems to change the least).  Christopher Eccleston is good as the character that just can’t handle what they have done.  Kerry Fox should be the likable one (in a traditional movie where the woman is the “innocent one”), but she turns into possibly the most vicious of the three.

shallow grave ending ewan mcgregor stabbed

We are NOT getting our deposit back…

The movie has a basic set and few locations outside of the flat.  It is a movie that could almost be done in a stage play and that works.  Despite limitations of the set, the film does a decent job using what it has.  The movie utilizes the few scenes outside of the loft well with the burials and disposals of the bodies, but the shots in the flat utilize some clever shooting in a minimal location including the lights from the drilling of the holes in the ceiling etc…it feels rather low budget but shot nicely.

Shallow Grave has faults, but it is a good start for a young actor and a young director.  The movie has some good thrills and does it while keeping it light and humorous at points.  It is worth seeking out if you haven’t seen it and if you are either a fan of Boyle or McGregor…but if you are also a fan of Doctor Who it is fun to see Eccleston in a role where is out of control.  Shallow Grave is simple, but it delivers.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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