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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Small murders between friends
For those who have yet to see it, Danny Boyle's Shallow Grave (1994) is a British horror/thriller that contains more laugh-out-loud moments than many co-called comedies. It is a very well written story of three Edinburgh flat-mates who rent out their spare room to Keith Allen, only for him to die in his bed shortly afterwards, leaving behind a suitcase full of cash. The...
Published on 12 July 2009 by P. Hanson

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars hardly believable even as fiction
this is a watchable movie which will surely engage your viewing, however the main message (understood to be "to which extent can you trust your best friends?") is somewhat diluted by excessive blood scenes and violence. If these two elements had been turned down a bit, the movie would have gained depth in my opinion. Acting is good, equally by all three main characters,...
Published on 1 Oct. 2011 by F. Panin


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Small murders between friends, 12 July 2009
By 
P. Hanson (Northumberland, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Shallow Grave Special Edition [DVD] (DVD)
For those who have yet to see it, Danny Boyle's Shallow Grave (1994) is a British horror/thriller that contains more laugh-out-loud moments than many co-called comedies. It is a very well written story of three Edinburgh flat-mates who rent out their spare room to Keith Allen, only for him to die in his bed shortly afterwards, leaving behind a suitcase full of cash. The flat-mates eventually decide to keep the money and bury the body. They think the loot will enhance their lives - but it doesn't, instead their world becomes a living nightmare.

Many would expect Ewan McGregor to be the star of this film - giving his current status as a Hollywood A-lister, but in fact Christopher Eccleston acts everyone else off the screen. He's superb as David the mild chartered accountant who slowly descends into madness. The scene in which he threatens to put a man in a bin bag is simultaneously hilarious and chilling (it's worth owning the DVD for this one scene alone). There are many other great moments, including Cameron's revenge on Alex in a toilet cubicle.

There are however several gaps in the storyline - for example, the flatmates never consider the obvious possibility of hiding the money then reporting Hugo's death to the police, and it is never explained how the two bad guys traced Hugo's disappearance to the flat. The film may not be perfect, but it has definitely stood the test of time. And I think having a low budget works to the film's advantage, as it is very lean, with no unnecessary scenes. The running time is just under 90 minutes, which is about right for this film.

As for the DVD itself, there are no problems at all with the sound and picture quality. Although this DVD is a "Special Edition", the only extras are a commentary by Danny Boyle and a 29-minute BBC documentary called Digging Your Own Grave. The documentary is actually quite interesting. Whereas most "making ofs" are nothing more than a prolonged trailer or marketing device, Digging Your Own Grave does take us behind the scenes to show how the film was made. We get to see how the special effects were created, how the sets were built, we get to see actors rehearsing and producer Andrew Macdonald almost suffer a nervous breakdown as his film spirals over budget and over schedule and shady men in suits begin appearing on the set. I wish more DVDs contained documentaries of this calibre.

Interestingly, Danny Boyle has mentioned that the events in Trainspotting took place prior to those in Shallow Grave and Keith Allen's character was in fact the same person in both films.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Share your house? Watch this film!, 20 April 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Shallow Grave [DVD] (1994) (DVD)
Shallow Grave is basically about what happens to a group of flatmates/friends when faced with the dilemma of having a suitcase full of money and a dead person in your flat! A humorous film that descends into claustrophobia racked with feelings of guilt as the three flatmates lose friendship,trust and ultimately sanity. There are some darkly funny moments in the film, especially the shopping scene in B&Q!
Christopher Eccleston gives yet another fine performance and it suprises me that he hasn't received the plaudits that are saved for Ewan McGregor. Kerry Fox as Juliet is also very engaging. If there is a criticism of this film it is that none of the flatmates are particularly likeable, and as such you watch their downfall through neutral eyes. Had the viewer empathised more with the characters the film would have been more hard-hitting and viewed more favourably in retrospect.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even friends will do a lot of things to keep a lot of money, 19 Nov. 2004
By 
Lawrance Bernabo (The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Shallow Grave [DVD] (1994) (DVD)
Although there is no room on the name plate at the front door to their flat, Juliet Miller (Kerry Fox), David Stephens (Christopher Eccleston), and Alex Law (Ewan McGregor) are interviewing for a fourth, to rent out the red bedroom. However, their way of interrogating prospective flat mates makes it seem that they will never find a fourth wheel. Alex, the reporter, asks most of the insulting questions, the nicest of which is probably asking "When was the last time you heard these exact words: 'You are the sunshine of my life'?" But Juliet, the doctor, asks things like, "This affair you're not having, is it not with a man, or not with a woman?" while David, the accountant, likes to inquire, "How would you react, then, if I told you I was the Antichrist?" There is no way that anybody is going to get a passing grade from all three of this trio.
In fact, Hugo (Keith Allen) talks to only Juliet before he makes it to a dinner with the boys, where Alex wants to know if Hugo can pay for the flat (a large wad of bills suggests that he can) and David just wants to know if Hugo has ever killed a man (Hugo lies on this point). These answers are sufficient for him to move in, although Hugo is clearly a bit older than they are and is not as amused by the trio's wit as they are. However, the next morning Hugo is lying naked and dead in the red bed, the victim of an overdose. Alex immediately starts checking out everything that Hugo left behind, apparently never thinking that the police might want to take a look at things first. Just as Juliet is about to report the corpse, Alex finds the proverbial suitcase filled with cash. Immediately, Juliet and the boys are reviewing the situation.
The key to keeping the money becomes eliminating Hugo's body and the title of the film gives you an indication of how the trio plan to accomplish that particular task, although Alex knows enough about how bodies are identified to suggest a few surgical procedures to go along with the burial. This requires the purchasing of necessary supplies, a trip into the forest, the drawing of a short straw, and then returning to the flat to endure the questions of Detective Inspector McCall (Ken Stott), who seems to think there should be four people living there. However, the trio have another problem, in that all that cash apparently did not really belong to Hugo either, and there are a couple of blokes looking for it, and therefore, for them as well.
The three flat mates are eccentric enough for us to be entertained by the way they treat most of the other human beings that they come into contact with, but when Alex makes a point of going to far with his treatment of poor Cameron (Colin McGredie), one of the failed applicants from the film's opening sequence, and Cameron offers a pointed rejoinder with the toe of his boot, we readily admit Alex deserves it. This becomes an important part of the dynamic for "Shallow Grave," because while we certainly expect the bad guys to get their hands on the three flat mates before the police can put everything together, we do not expect the sharp turn the film takes at that point.
These characters are entertaining, but they are not sympathetic, so in watching how this one plays out we do not really have a rooting interest in which, if any of them, get out of this film alive. Although I know it came out four years later, "A Simple Plan" tells a similar story but with much more sympathetic characters. The question is the same: if a whole lot of money fell into your lap, how far would you go to keep it? Of course such narratives beg the question as to whether you should or not, because the drama, and the attendant horror, comes from how far people will go.
The other thing that "Shallow Grave" reminds me about is the bit from one of Bill Cosby's routine where he is talking about people doing cocaine. Cosby explains that people have told him that cocaine enhances things so that you become more of what you were and his rejoinder is, "But what is you are an a**hole?" That question is a totally legitimate one to ask with regards to this story line because these are not good people, and when they are put in a bad situation that becomes increasingly worse, it is not like there are any angels representing their better natures. This one gets pretty bad and if you want another cinematic reference tossed at you then think of the three way gun fight at the end of "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly."
Just do not be distracted by the sarcastic wit of the principles into thinking that they are good people or that this is a comedy. The "funny" stuff is all relative and just because you laugh at what people say is no reason to make the leap to thinking they are good people. Besides, the director is Danny Boyle, known for both "Trainspotting" and "28 Days Later," so you knew this 1994 was not going to be morally uplifting. This is just another example nice little example of bad people doing bad things to each other. Just because you call someone your friend, does not mean that they really are in any and all circumstances.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the UK's finest films of the 'nineties, 13 Dec. 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Shallow Grave [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This film, made on a shoestring budget by Danny Boyle, stands out among the dross of films made in the nineties. Three flatmates (McGregor, Eccles & Fox) look for a flatmate to share their luxurious flat and get more than they bargained for. The primise is a tad predictable and somewhat boring after watching it more than once but the settting and the score (incl Leftfield) make it worth seeing again & again. Ewan McGregor's career took off after this film but those of Christopher Eccles and Kerry Fox continued on a rather low key pitch. For sale in the UK only on video, jarringly, it hasn't been released on DVD yet. This really should be looked at.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Words cannot describe what a landmark this film is!, 17 Mar. 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: Shallow Grave [DVD] (1994) (DVD)
Rejoice! Finally a British film to be proud of, by the renowned Danny Boyle, sorrounding flat mates who really test the boundaries and defey the limits of friendship. Alex (McGreggor), David (Eccleston) and Juliette (Fox) are three unconventional twentysomethings, living in the Scottish capital and inevitably each different personality contrats from one another, creating a rather effective juxtapostion.
Hugo,the morning after being crowned their new flat mate, he is found to have died during the night of a heroin overdose. But the plot thickens, a large suitcase crammed with cash is also discovered under his bed.
The conflicting emotions of should they/ shouldn't they, don't last very long, otherwise they would not be a film worth speaking of. But this catalyst then reshapes each chracter's personality, most noticably the insanity of David.
The dynamics are remarkable and the acting is superior to the likes of Trainspotting. Witty dialouge and a samuri sharp plot line, derailed with twists and turns, makes this, one of British cinema's most proudest achievements.
Unlike Trainspotting-for which Boyle received more acclaim for- this film is not littered with pretentious pop-culture references and does not try to derive itself from being a superb little film, that does not nearly get as much recognition as it deserves.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Get Your Good Clean Fresh Nasty Shallow Fun Here, 30 Jun. 2012
By 
Stephanie De Pue (Wilmington, NC USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Shallow Grave Special Edition [DVD] (DVD)
"Shallow Grave," a 1994 black comedy-farce, was the feature film debut of young British director Danny Boyle, who was just making his escape from British television. (You can catch his TV work in Inspector Morse - Complete Boxset [DVD], and Hamish MacBeth : Series 1-3 (6 Disc Box Set) [DVD], and it's well-worth the catching, if you can. ) Boyle's first movie is pure "tartan noir," as they call one of the current schools of Scottish mystery-making, tough, funny, macabre. And it couldn't be further removed from what Hollywood routinely serves us.

SHALLOW GRAVE starred several then-unknown actors. Christopher Eccleston, Jude [DVD] [1996], as "David Stephens;" Ewan McGregor, Trainspotting [DVD] [1996], as "Alex Law," and Kerry Fox as "Juliet Miller." In smaller parts it featured; as "Detective Inspector McCall," Ken Stott, who's since made a career playing TV cops, most recently,Rebus : Seasons 3-4 (6 Disc Set) [DVD], and Colin McCredie, whom some may remember from the later series of TAGGART. Robert Carlyle, The Full Monty [1997] [DVD], an actor with whom Boyle had previously worked on HAMISH was offered the starring part of "David," but turned it down.

Boyle was born on October 20, 1956 (same date as Viggo Mortenson), in Manchester, England, son of first generation Irish Catholic immigrants. He began working in theater: he was Artistic Director of the Royal Court from 1982-85, and then Deputy Director from 1985-87. In his film career, since SHALLOW GRAVE, he's gone on to make TRAINSPOTTING, a fairly outrageous druggie film, with Ewan McGregor again, in 1996; and 28 Days Later ... [DVD] [2002]a zombie movie like no other, in 2002. And, of course, he got an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire [DVD]. His work tends to have a light--some might say shallow-- touch, and a taste for the fantastic.

"Shallow" is a fresh take on a hoary idea: that pots of money, no matter how acquired, will break any friendship/companionship/marriage. It's set in Edinburgh, and opens on a sweeping panorama of that city's elegant, historic New Town district. (Only exteriors were filmed in Edinburgh, however, the rest was filmed in Glasgow to take advantage of a 150,000 pound grant from that city's film board.) Three roommates, needing a fourth for financial reasons, are interviewing candidates; they're kind of snarky, but funny if you don't happen to be the interviewee. Their flat is drop dead gorgeous, big and light, full of unexpected color: you'd sure like to be the lucky one chosen. Mysterious Hugo, the man chosen, dies immediately after moving in. They never exactly know why, neither do we; all parties just assume drug overdose, especially after Hugo's found to have a suitcase full of nice crisp 100 pound notes. This sets the plot, in all its gruesome, unpredictable glory, in motion; six people will be dead by movie's end.

We never learn the back stories of the three main characters, nor any of the others, nor why they are acting as they do. And none of the characters are shown to be nice people, worth rooting for. In fact, in my off-the cuff memory, we haven't been presented with three such easy to dislike characters since the late John Huston's masterpiece TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE, starring Humphrey Bogart as Fred C. Dobbs, John's father Walter as another of the miners, and ending with a body count about the same as "Shallow Grave's."

In sum, SHALLOW GRAVE is a tight, entertaining, shallow little thriller, with Boyle's trademark touch of the fantastic. It's like nothing you've ever seen before. Your feelings about it will be influenced by your fondness for the unexpected, and your willingness to sit there and let a movie take you where it will.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Boyle's Inventive Feature Debut, 27 April 2012
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Shallow Grave [DVD] (1994) (DVD)
Danny Boyle's 1994 debut feature Shallow Grave is a brilliant exponent of macabre black comedy, made with the inventive directorial flare that has become a trademark of this most eclectic of film-makers. Whilst the 'in your face' impact of Shallow Grave has rather mellowed over the intervening years, and the film has been surpassed in Boyle's body of work by his masterpiece Trainspotting, the earlier film is still an extremely assured debut and makes for very enjoyable viewing.

The film opens with a great (and now recognised as typical Boyle) accelerated tracking shot through the streets of Edinburgh - not quite as stunning as the Trainspotting opening, but innovative nevertheless. This sets the tone for a film that is great to look at (cinematographer Brian Tufano also worked on Trainspotting and Quadrophenia) and listen to (featuring a superb soundtrack written by Simon Boswell plus a one or two other artists' featured songs). The plot of Shallow Grave tells the claustrophobic tale of three flat mates (Alex - Ewan McGregor, David - Christopher Eccleston, Juliet - Kerry Fox) whose lives are changed forever when they let out a room in the house they share to flathunter Hugo (Keith Allen) who, unbeknown to them, is harbouring a suitcaseful of stolen cash. As the cash falls into the hands of the trio, their friendships and loyalties are tested to breaking point, causing mental instability and eventual betrayal.

Boyle has created a brilliantly atmospheric look and feel for the film, and the quirky black humour frequently reminds me of the films of the Coen Brothers (at their best), in particular the film Barton Fink. There are numerous hilarious lines of dialogue (such as when, faced with their grisly task, Alex points out to Julia ,'You're a doctor, you kill people everyday') and nice cinematic touches (such as the scene where Alex is watching the climactic scene from The Wicker Man on TV). Acting-wise, all the three main protagonists are good, with a particularly notable performance from Eccleston (an actor whose cinematic career has never really regained this level of performance, other than perhaps in Michael Winterbottom's Jude). There are also minor roles and cameos for some other outstanding Scottish acting talent, namely Ken Stott (as the police inspector), Peter Mullan (as a henchman) and Gary Lewis (in a brilliant turn as one of the potential flatmates interviewed towards the beginning of the film).

My only criticism of the film is that I find that the third quarter does tend to drag slightly, and maybe the film is 10 minutes or so too long. However, everything comes together again for an outstanding closing sequence - one of the darkest, comic endings I've seen, as the film's grisly denouement is (hilariously) accompanied by Andy Williams singing Happy Heart.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars classic Mcgregor, 2 Aug. 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Shallow Grave [DVD] (1994) (DVD)
excellent screenplay and concept with top class acting makes a flawless night in with the girlfriend, who'll watch because of Ewan but'll stay because she's too frightened to go into the kitchen alone.
Christopher Eccleston -imagine your roommate moving into the attic and watching your every move through tiny holes in the ceiling! A dark, comic and stylish film
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars People will do a lot of things to keep a lot of money, 24 Feb. 2005
By 
Lawrance Bernabo (The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Shallow Grave [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Although there is no room on the name plate at the front door to their flat, Juliet Miller (Kerry Fox), David Stephens (Christopher Eccleston), and Alex Law (Ewan McGregor) are interviewing for a fourth, to rent out the red bedroom. However, their way of interrogating prospective flat mates makes it seem that they will never find a fourth wheel. Alex, the reporter, asks most of the insulting questions, the nicest of which is probably asking "When was the last time you heard these exact words: 'You are the sunshine of my life'?" But Juliet, the doctor, asks things like, "This affair you're not having, is it not with a man, or not with a woman?" while David, the accountant, likes to inquire, "How would you react, then, if I told you I was the Antichrist?" There is no way that anybody is going to get a passing grade from all three of this trio.
In fact, Hugo (Keith Allen) talks to only Juliet before he makes it to a dinner with the boys, where Alex wants to know if Hugo can pay for the flat (a large wad of bills suggests that he can) and David just wants to know if Hugo has ever killed a man (Hugo lies on this point). These answers are sufficient for him to move in, although Hugo is clearly a bit older than they are and is not as amused by the trio's wit as they are. However, the next morning Hugo is lying naked and dead in the red bed, the victim of an overdose. Alex immediately starts checking out everything that Hugo left behind, apparently never thinking that the police might want to take a look at things first. Just as Juliet is about to report the corpse, Alex finds the proverbial suitcase filled with cash. Immediately, Juliet and the boys are reviewing the situation.
The key to keeping the money becomes eliminating Hugo's body and the title of the film gives you an indication of how the trio plan to accomplish that particular task, although Alex knows enough about how bodies are identified to suggest a few surgical procedures to go along with the burial. This requires the purchasing of necessary supplies, a trip into the forest, the drawing of a short straw, and then returning to the flat to endure the questions of Detective Inspector McCall (Ken Stott), who seems to think there should be four people living there. However, the trio have another problem, in that all that cash apparently did not really belong to Hugo either, and there are a couple of blokes looking for it, and therefore, for them as well.
The three flat mates are eccentric enough for us to be entertained by the way they treat most of the other human beings that they come into contact with, but when Alex makes a point of going to far with his treatment of poor Cameron (Colin McGredie), one of the failed applicants from the film's opening sequence, and Cameron offers a pointed rejoinder with the toe of his boot, we readily admit Alex deserves it. This becomes an important part of the dynamic for "Shallow Grave," because while we certainly expect the bad guys to get their hands on the three flat mates before the police can put everything together, we do not expect the sharp turn the film takes at that point.
These characters are entertaining, but they are not sympathetic, so in watching how this one plays out we do not really have a rooting interest in which, if any of them, get out of this film alive. Although I know it came out four years later, "A Simple Plan" tells a similar story but with much more sympathetic characters. The question is the same: if a whole lot of money fell into your lap, how far would you go to keep it? Of course such narratives beg the question as to whether you should or not, because the drama, and the attendant horror, comes from how far people will go.
The other thing that "Shallow Grave" reminds me about is the bit from one of Bill Cosby's routine where he is talking about people doing cocaine. Cosby explains that people have told him that cocaine enhances things so that you become more of what you were and his rejoinder is, "But what is you are an a**hole?" That question is a totally legitimate one to ask with regards to this story line because these are not good people, and when they are put in a bad situation that becomes increasingly worse, it is not like there are any angels representing their better natures. This one gets pretty bad and if you want another cinematic reference tossed at you then think of the three way gun fight at the end of "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly."
Just do not be distracted by the sarcastic wit of the principles into thinking that they are good people or that this is a comedy. The "funny" stuff is all relative and just because you laugh at what people say is no reason to make the leap to thinking they are good people. Besides, the director is Danny Boyle, known for both "Trainspotting" and "28 Days Later," so you knew this 1994 was not going to be morally uplifting. This is just another example nice little example of bad people doing bad things to each other.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive first feature for Danny Boyle, 24 Aug. 2013
By 
K. Gordon - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
At his best, Danny Boyle is one of our finest living filmmakers. And if this 1st feature isn't quite up to the level of the
best of his work, it still shows one heck of a lot of talent.

That said, while enjoyable and full of energy and solid performances, this didn't hold up as well on 2nd viewing as
I'd hoped. This caper drama about 3 self obsessed, comically awful 20 somethings who fall into a bag of money
and slowly turn on each other has a lot of dark cynical fun in it, but there are just too many logic holes and too
many character leaps to be fully satisfying.

A lot of the twists are clever (although some are predictable) but rather than characters evolving, they seem to lurch
suddenly on their way down the rat hole to beyond forgivable. You accept the sudden transformations because they're
there, but it did leave me wondering `when did THAT suddenly happen to the character'. In turn, that underlines the
film's somewhat cartoony nature, which makes sure it's never too disturbing to enjoy no matter how awfully everyone
behaves, but that also robs it of the chance of being a deeper film than just a fun, smart genre exercise.

With "Trainspotting" Boyle went on to find that perfect balance of surface fun, and deeper dramatic meanings, but this is a
good first step.
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