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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Security and insanity are not the same thing."
Danny Boyle has given us movie fans some amazing films in a variety of genres(Trainspotting, 28 Days Later. His first movie, Shallow Grave, is one of the best directorial debuts ever. A solid, gritty thriller centered around three flatmates and their descent into greed and subsequent savagery.

Shallow Grave is invariably one of the top 10 mystery/thrillers I...
Published on March 23, 2005 by Ryan Costantino

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars suspense and lack of trust
Three sarcastic, greedy roommates (a journalist, an accountant and a doctor) decide to find a fourth roommate for their apartment, but their unorthodox approach of interviewing/screening potential applicants excludes most people. Eventually someone comes along who seems to meet all of their criteria. He moves in, locks himself in his room and is never heard from again...
Published on March 23, 2005 by EriKa


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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Security and insanity are not the same thing.", March 23, 2005
By 
This review is from: Shallow Grave (DVD)
Danny Boyle has given us movie fans some amazing films in a variety of genres(Trainspotting, 28 Days Later. His first movie, Shallow Grave, is one of the best directorial debuts ever. A solid, gritty thriller centered around three flatmates and their descent into greed and subsequent savagery.

Shallow Grave is invariably one of the top 10 mystery/thrillers I recommend to newbies of the genre. The large cult following for this film is most definitely warranted, mainly because it doesn't fall victim to studio executive induced foolishness or its bastard requisite happy ending. This is good film making with taut direction derived from an excellent script.

The entire crux of the film is the question: "When confronted with a large sum of money can friendship survive?" Obviously the answer is a resounding "no". Boyle drops his audience into a frightening and exhilirating situation, makes us care for his characters, and then ruthlessly pummels them with brutal circumstance. We can see a little bit of ourselves in all three main characters which definitely increases our empathy and revulsion at the betrayal and bloodshed.

Shallow Grave is a haunting depiction of paranoia, deceit, murder, and madness that gets better with each viewing.

P.S. Danny Boyle revisits similar ground with his new release "Millions", albeit in a more wholesome, family friendly format.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You have to cover the trail!, June 6, 2000
This review is from: Shallow Grave (DVD)
This little Scottish gem is worth watching more than once! I'll not bother recanting what it's about, you can read that above. This is a delightful example of how greed and peer pressure can twist and stain the human soul with ugliness. Most of the movie takes place in the three roommates' flat in Scotland so it has a real claustrophobic feel to it. The plot is simple, watch the three characters crumble as they're affected by their decision to keep the money and dispose of the body. Strongest scene: when David comments about the dinner after having to hack up the dead body "It tastes different." Possibly meaning both the dinner and everything else about his life. This film has a nice ending, not a phoney one just to keep everyone happy. Technically, the digital transfer is mediocre. The sound is quite low. I have to turn my TV up pretty high to hear it, but this could be due to poor production on the set. There are no extras included on this DVD.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hollywood studio would have never produced `Shallow Grave', January 16, 2006
This review is from: Shallow Grave (DVD)
Why is it that I watch and enjoy so many films in which Ewan McGregor appears? After finishing the substantive part of my day one evening last week, I flipped over to IFC and found `Shallow Grave' (1994) just starting. I stuck with it, and was not disappointed.

A movie fan has to love the risks that the independent filmmakers take. Danny Boyle, the same director of `Trainspotting,' did a very nice job with three rather unknown actors at the time - at least in the U.S., Kerry Fox (Juliet), Christopher Eccleston (David), and McGregor (Alex), a quirky and unusual script, a little contemporary film noir, and created an enjoyable little story. Nice work, Danny Boyle.

In synopsis, Juliet, David, and Alex live in a nice four bedroom flat and are conducting a roommate search to pay a fourth of the rent. During a dinner/interview with a prospective tenant, Hugo, played by Keith Allen, the three are impressed, perhaps excessively so, when the potential flat mate brandishes nice wad of pound notes. Very shortly after Hugo moves in, he is not to be seen. Inquisitive Alex (he's a newspaper reporter) leads the charge to break into his room only to find Hugo naked and dead. Then, Alex continues to snoop and finds a substantial cache of money in a suitcase under the bed.

In short, after some very shallow soul-searching, the trio decided to keep the money rather than to report Hugo's death to the authorities. As such, Juliet, David, and Alex David must dispose of the body, Hugo's car, and anything else that could possibly associate the deceased flat mate with the three friends. The disposal proves to be quite a grisly affair, but that is not the least of the trio's problems. Paralleling their own struggles in disposing of Hugo, Boyle introduces us to two very bad men who are also looking for the money. The audience does not know and does not necessarily need to know who these very bad men are, just that they are very bad men and are getting closer and closer to Juliet, David, and Alex.

Ironies abound in `Shallow Grave,' but one of the most fun of those ironies occurs at the point when bodies, - yes, bodies - are found in a shallow grave, and Alex is assigned by his editor at the newspaper to cover the story. Alex's front-page headline is then succeeded by an intense climax as the three "friends," each apparently on the verge or over the precipice of insanity caused by greed, face each other early one morning and then a surprise ending that includes Alex gruesomely fastened to the floor of the flat.

In a moderate budget, independent film, actors, directors, and producers tend to take more creative risks. As such, I do not believe a Hollywood studio would have ever produced `Shallow Grave'. And, if it had, Hollywood would have turned it into a watered down version of its original intention, comparable to the difference between the independent `Requiem for a Dream' and the Hollywood `Traffic.' Good for lovers of good film.
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15 of 19 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, November 19, 2004
By 
Amazon Customer (The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (COMMUNITY FORUM 04)   
This review is from: Shallow Grave (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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars suspense and lack of trust, March 23, 2005
This review is from: Shallow Grave (DVD)
Three sarcastic, greedy roommates (a journalist, an accountant and a doctor) decide to find a fourth roommate for their apartment, but their unorthodox approach of interviewing/screening potential applicants excludes most people. Eventually someone comes along who seems to meet all of their criteria. He moves in, locks himself in his room and is never heard from again. Eventually the three roommates decide to break into the room when their curiosity gets the best of them. They find their new roommate dead along with a monumental sum of cash. Naturally they decide to keep the cash, but they must find a way to dispose of the body (this is gruesome) and what follows is a study in how trust disintegrates between friends and suspicion and paranoia pulls people and alliances apart. Naturally there will be inquiries from police, which the three of them will have to withstand, and there will be problems from the people who actually have claim on the dead roommate's money. Although I fell asleep the first time I saw this, and therefore cannot call the story the most captivating thing I have ever seen, it is actually quite entertaining and suspenseful when you stay awake! Kerry Fox, Ewan McGregor and Christopher Eccleston embody their roles perfectly, not making their characters sympathetic but at least believable as the kinds of young, greedy, selfish people you don't want to meet.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best storyline thrillers ever., April 29, 2008
By 
Lynn Benson (Hell, I mean Arizona) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Shallow Grave (DVD)
First of all, let's just tell the review readers that the low ratings are obviously few and far between for a reason. Take stock in the fact that the majority of ratings are 5 stars.

I own this film on good old VHS tape. Long before Ewan McGregor was a household name. So please, throw away any idea that he makes or breaks this film. It's stunning. The story sucks you in and you are there, alone with just you and your television. It will be easy to block out the outside world and become mesmerized. And horrified and shocked and aghast and bewildered.

I promise this film is amazing. Be careful of reading too many reviews as they'll stupidly give away too much of the film.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW!!, December 2, 2001
This review is from: Shallow Grave (DVD)
Danny Boyle has made a remarkable masterpiece titled "Shallow Grave". It's the best thriller made in a long time. Disturbing for its violent content at times, Shallow Grave provides what it's supposed to. Very haunting soundtrack works well with the amazing cinematography. Love this movie! A must see!!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ravensong's Reviews: Shallow Grave, July 16, 2000
This review is from: Shallow Grave (DVD)
"So, when you sacrifice a goat, and you rip its heart out with your bare hands, do you then summon hellfire?" This movie is set up like a bad joke: a doctor, an accountant, and a journalist are looking for a new flatmate... The line above is one of the questions asked of the applicants. But things suddenly get less and less funny, starting when they find their new roomie dead in his bed with a suitcase full of money under it. They keep the money and hide the body. The scales gradually tip away from comedy and toward suspense as we are drawn into the minds of the three friends trying to deal with what they've done, until there is no reason at all to laugh except that it isn't happening to you. This movie is not as blatantly warped as Trainspotting (same director); rather, it is subtly bizarre. I rented it more for the chance to stare at Ewan McGregor with long hair than anything else, but I found it was darn good too. I couldn't tear my eyes off the TV screen.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another brilliant film by director Danny Boyle!, May 3, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Shallow Grave (DVD)
A movie about three Scottish flatmates who find their roomie dead; with a suitcase full of money stuffed under his bed. Then they have to decide what to do with it-- and if they keep it, how do they hide the body? A gruesomely well-written script and extraordinary acting by Ewan McGregor, Kerry Fox, and Christopher Eccleson make this movie a definite must-see for psychotic thriller fans. Ewan McGregor stands out as Alex Law, the sarcastic and verbally abusive character who knows exactly how to get rid of a corpse. His dry sense of humor and bad timing will keep you laughing throughout the film.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hitchcock-Bound, February 21, 2000
This review is from: Shallow Grave (DVD)
'Shallow Grave,' with Ewan McGregor, is the movie Danny Boyle made before he made 'Trainspotting.' This movie is nothing like 'Trainspotting.' Not even close. It's like Hitchcock. It's like 'Bound.' Actually, it's a lot like 'Bound.' No lesbians, though. It's about three British kids (two male, one female; the female played by the delicious Kerry Fox) who split the rent on an almost unbelievably spacious apartment and are looking for someone to make it a four-way split. Considering how they verbally abuse and torment everyone who comes to their door to interview for the room, it's obvious they're not really looking all that hard. Eventually, though, they do find the perfect 'flat-mate.' He moves in, locks himself in his room, and then... Well, that would be giving too much away. Highly recommended.
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Shallow Grave
Shallow Grave by Danny Boyle (DVD - 1998)
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