Tom Geens‘ Couple In A Hole opens with John (Paul Higgins) huffing, puffing and hunting his way through a wood. He is somewhat underequipped for the task, scavenging for food, with nothing but his bare hands. Something is clearly amiss. Is it a bad case of the munchies during camp out or is the end of the world nigh?
Worried minds are soon put to ease that this is not the end of civilisation or the aftermath of some nuclear disaster when a bouncing bunny briefly hops into frame. That is until the close-up shot of our fluffy friend being thwacked dead, head first, against the trunk of a tree, soon to be grilled over a makeshift ‘barbie’ under a starry, starry sky. So, what’s up?
Turns out that John is one half of a Scottish couple literally living in some woods in France. The grubby pair have decided to give up their worldly possessions and go feral, living it large in a pokey cave. His wife Karen (Kate Dickie) is beyond loopy – and not in a fun way. Pushing the boundaries of their marriage vows ‘in sickness and in health’ she can barely make it out of the cave unless tempted by a delicious grub or two. Disorder to their lives comes when one of the local villagers in the valley below, refuses to leave them to their own devices.
Wondering why they have decided to make their questionable life choice? Sure you are. And get comfy because it takes a long time into the film before you get to the ‘big’ reveal. And therein lies the problem.
The slow pace of the film makes you want to oops-up-side-your-head down an orifice, yourself. By the time you learn why the couple is in a ‘hole’, you are beyond caring. We get that the scenes of Act I are there to illustrate the monotony of the protagonists’ lives but will we (the audience not the characters) make it to the second act?
Not that Couple In A Hole is without merit. All praise to Sam Care’s excellent cinematography. The two main actors are accomplished against the backdrop of their support actors who do their best with boringly stereotypical characters.
You cannot help wondering how much better Couple In A Hole would be if it got the ol’ Hollywood treatment. Yes, we are going there. If the audience must wait for a considerable amount of screen time before any hint of a storyline or backstory then the only option is the commercial route. By that, in lieu of some substance, we mean any half-dressed pouting starlet or sweaty hunk.
Sadly, the most emotive part of this film is that you have an overwhelming desire to give Karen a wash and slap some makeup on her.