Shallow Grave


1h 34m 1994

Brief Synopsis

When faced with a unique challenge, the relations among three young friends are changed forever. In the process, their veneers of privilege and breeding give way to what lies behind: greed, deceit and evil.

Film Details

Also Known As
Dödsleken, Pequenos Crimes Entre Amigos, Petits meurtres entre amis
MPAA Rating
Release Date
1994
Production Company
Aon/Albert G. Ruben Insurance Services; Arri Group; Eastman Kodak; Film Finances, Inc.; Film4 Productions; Filmfour; General Screen Enterprises; Glasgow Film Fund; Polygram Filmed Entertainment; Reel Food Productions; Sound Design Company
Distribution Company
Gramercy Pictures; Focus Features; Gramercy Pictures; Independent Productions; Meteor Film Productions; Mfa Filmdistribution Gmbh; Pan Europeenne; Polygram Video; Rank Film Distributors Inc; Sogepaq S.A.
Location
Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 34m

Synopsis

When faced with a unique challenge, the relations among three young friends are changed forever. In the process, their veneers of privilege and breeding give way to what lies behind: greed, deceit and evil.

Crew

Brian Adams

Standby Carpenter

John Amabile

Storyboard Artist

Campbell Atkinson

Other

Stephen Barker

Post-Production Supervisor

Sara Barr

Production Manager

Mat Bergel

Production Assistant

Hilda Booth

Production Accountant

Simon Boswell

Music

Brian Boyne

Stand By Stage

Lewis Buchan

Other

Willie Cadden

Gaffer

Kate Carin

Costume Designer

Stuart Clarke

Scenic Artist

Stephen Conroy

Other

Paul Conway

Digital Sound Editor

Tony Cook

Boom Operator

Anne Coulter

Script Supervisor

Stewart Cunningham

Dressing Props

Paul Curren

Other

Sam Curren

Other

Clive Curtis

Stunt Supervisor

Gemma Dempsey

Music Supervisor

Anuree Desilva

1st Assistant Editor

Arthur Donnelly

Electrician

John Downes

Associate Producer

Simon Downes

Third Assistant Director

Richard Fettes

Footsteps Editor

Gordon Fitzgerald

Props Master

Colin H Fraser

Construction Manager

Derek Fraser

Construction Chargehand

Tracey Gallacher

Assistant Art Director

Nigel Galt

Sound Editor

Alison Goring

2nd Assistant Director

Pat Harkins

Stand By Props

Richard Hassall

Carpenter

Masahiro Hirakubo

Editor

John Hodge

Screenwriter

Carmel Jackson

Makeup Assistant

Ian Jackson

Other

Dianne Jamieson

Other

Graham Johnston

Makeup Designer

Scott Kerry

Props Driver

Peter Knotts

Carpenter

Gina Lee

Other

Niki Longmuir

Floor Runner

Lee Lighting Ltd

Lighting (Scotland)

Iain Macaulay

Art Department Assistant

Andrew Macdonald

Producer

Zoe Macleod

Art Director

Ian Madden

1st Assistant Director

Grant Mason

Special Effects Makeup

Kirstin Mcmahon

Other

Yvonne Mcparland

Production Coordinator

Ray Merrin

Re-Recording Mixer

Saul Metzstein

Production Runner

Morag Myerscough

Titles Design

Colin Nicholson

Sound Mixer

Colin Nicolson

Sound Mixer

John Norster

Wardrobe Supervisor

Jim Patrick

Other

Kave Quinn

Production Designer

Ken Richards

Other

Derrick Ritchie

Other

Mark Ritchie

Best Boy

Fran Robertson

Location Manager

Nigel Robertson

Stills Photographer

Roy Russell

Grip

Brian Saunders

Re-Recording Mixer

Allan Scott

Executive Producer

Eric Smith

Runner

Jamie Spencer

Runner

Tony Steers

Special Visual Effects

James Stewart

Runner

Danny Sumison

Standby Carpenter

Sarah Trevis

Casting

Brian Tufano

Dp/Cinematographer

Brian Tufano

Director Of Photography

Dominic Turner

Stills Photographer

Karen Wakefield

Production Buyer

John Watts

Carpenter

Neil Williams

2nd Assistant Editor

Film Details

Also Known As
Dödsleken, Pequenos Crimes Entre Amigos, Petits meurtres entre amis
MPAA Rating
Release Date
1994
Production Company
Aon/Albert G. Ruben Insurance Services; Arri Group; Eastman Kodak; Film Finances, Inc.; Film4 Productions; Filmfour; General Screen Enterprises; Glasgow Film Fund; Polygram Filmed Entertainment; Reel Food Productions; Sound Design Company
Distribution Company
Gramercy Pictures; Focus Features; Gramercy Pictures; Independent Productions; Meteor Film Productions; Mfa Filmdistribution Gmbh; Pan Europeenne; Polygram Video; Rank Film Distributors Inc; Sogepaq S.A.
Location
Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom; Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 34m

Articles

Shallow Grave - SHALLOW GRAVE - Director Danny Boyle's 1994 Feature Film Debut


Movie thrillers got a boost in the early 1990s, as enterprising filmmakers took the path pioneered by the Coen Brothers' earlier hit Blood simple. Once the concept of "film noir" finally seeped down to the level of mainstream culture, critics and the public alike were realizing that a number of "darker" murder mysteries of the 1980s like Body Heat and The Grifters could be called "neo noir": modern pictures that retained some of the characteristics of the classic style of the 1940s and '50s. Skilled practitioners like Stephen Frears were already attuned to the style when Quentin Tarantino cornered the market in neo-noir for the genre-savvy movie audience.

Over in Scotland, TV director Danny Boyle, screenwriter John Hodge and producer Andrew Macdonald made a splash with 1994's Shallow Grave,a cleverly stylized and packaged murder thriller definitely modeled after the Coen Bros.' original hit. The movie was an almost instant success, putting Danny Boyle on the path to the directing mainstream. The show also gave a strong boost to its trio of stars, Kerry Fox, Christopher Eccleston and Ewan McGregor.

Hodge's story supposes that three working professionals need a fourth roommate for their Edinburgh apartment. Juliet (Kerry Fox) is a doctor, Alex (Ewan McGregor) a reporter for a tabloid and David (Christopher Eccleston) an accountant. The trio isn't particularly friendly, as they crueally subject their interviewees to their sardonic sense of humor. But they soon choose an acceptable fellow to take the extra room. The perfect candidate Hugo (Keith Allen) dies from a heroin overdose on the very night he moves in. What's more, the trio discovers that his suitcase is packed with money. Juliet, David and Alex mull over this opportunity for more than a day before taking the risk, and keeping the money. It's the old story: fear, suspicion and paranoia soon take a toll. Juliet and Alex go on a foolish spending spree while David quietly freaks out. Convinced that a conspiracy is afoot, he stops talking to his roommates and hides in the attic where 'nobody can get at him.' Alex and Juliet try to convince David that everything is fine --- just as Hugo's murderous associates succeed in tracing the suitcase with the money.

Not unlike Quentin Tarantino, the makers of Shallow Grave keep their show aloft with stylish visuals and sharp, flashy characterizations. Juliet, Alex and David's insular relationship is a too-hip-for-you private club, the kind in which friends feed off each other's desire to be ultra-clever. The trio finishes each other's sentences and laughs at all the right moments. Individuals outside their inner circle are fair game for whatever verbal abuse they care to dish out. The main instigator of group foolishness is the sharp-tongued Alex, while Juliet draws a personal satisfaction knowing that her male friends quietly lust after her. The more serious David is forever rushing to his boring accountancy job in a foul mood. We don't really like this trio. It reminds us of people we've met, that we've perhaps consciously decided not to judge.

Most of the action is restricted to the one apartment. A large and attractive space, it is exploited very well by Danny Boyle's camera. The visuals are less mannered than those of Tarantino or the Coens, yet there is no lack of odd camera angles. The trio's midnight excursions to ditch various corpses are a foggy replay of Robert Louis Stevenson's story The Body Snatcher, with added details of gruesome dismemberment. David's retreat to the attic crawlspace seems a weird re-run of Hitchcock's Psycho. He knocks holes all over the ceiling through which he can observe his roommates, creating a forest of light beams that pierce the attic gloom. It's an instant expressionist effect.

Shallow Grave delivers the expected violent confrontations and derives more than a few thriller situations from older models. Keeping track of the cash stashed in the suitcase is an issue. When Alex is assigned to report on the police investigation of the graves found in the woods, he finds himself retracing the reluctant steps of Edward G. Robinson in Fritz Lang's The Woman in the Window.

If the point is to push English movies beyond the years of Merchant-Ivory gentility, Shallow Grave accomplishes its mission. These young adults are certainly not innocents. They do not for a moment concern themselves with moral issues; the intended message may be that their value system has been eroded by the new worship of money. In the U.K. post-Margaret Thatcher, the need for moral balance is just another sentiment to be mocked. The show is suspenseful and frequently funny: the one thing we know for certain is that the fade-out will be accompanied by a dead body or two... or maybe four.

It's easy to see why Shallow Grave's actors did well. Christopher Eccleston's unhinged accountant is just as meticulous about bashing skulls and chopping up bodies as he is making his books balance. Kerry Fox's young doctor joins in the camaraderie but always keeps something essential to herself. And Ewan McGregor's smart-talking joker shows such a knack for recklessness and antisocial behavior, we feel certain that he's compensating for some perceived inner lack. Shallow Grave may be an almost generic stash-the-cash crime story, but its depth of characterization puts it ahead of most of its competition.

The Criterion Collection's Blu-ray of Shallow Grave is a perfect encoding of this suspense hit from 1994. With the help of the filmmakers Criterion includes plenty of first-person extras. One feature-length commentary pairs John Hodge and Andrew Macdonald, while a second allows director Boyle free reign. This first feature was the beginning of a wave of hits for Danny Boyle: Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours. An interview featurette regroups the three stars to recap the production and filming seventeen years after the fact. Also present are a BBC making-of show produced during the filming and a video diary from 1992's Edinburgh film festival, showing the producers in search of financing to get Shallow Grave on its feet. A trailer is included as well as a teaser for Trainspotting; a folding insert contains an essay by Philip Kemp.

For more information about Shallow Grave, visit The Criterion Collection. To order Shallow Grave, go to TCM Shopping.

by Glenn Erickson
Shallow Grave - Shallow Grave - Director Danny Boyle's 1994 Feature Film Debut

Shallow Grave - SHALLOW GRAVE - Director Danny Boyle's 1994 Feature Film Debut

Movie thrillers got a boost in the early 1990s, as enterprising filmmakers took the path pioneered by the Coen Brothers' earlier hit Blood simple. Once the concept of "film noir" finally seeped down to the level of mainstream culture, critics and the public alike were realizing that a number of "darker" murder mysteries of the 1980s like Body Heat and The Grifters could be called "neo noir": modern pictures that retained some of the characteristics of the classic style of the 1940s and '50s. Skilled practitioners like Stephen Frears were already attuned to the style when Quentin Tarantino cornered the market in neo-noir for the genre-savvy movie audience. Over in Scotland, TV director Danny Boyle, screenwriter John Hodge and producer Andrew Macdonald made a splash with 1994's Shallow Grave,a cleverly stylized and packaged murder thriller definitely modeled after the Coen Bros.' original hit. The movie was an almost instant success, putting Danny Boyle on the path to the directing mainstream. The show also gave a strong boost to its trio of stars, Kerry Fox, Christopher Eccleston and Ewan McGregor. Hodge's story supposes that three working professionals need a fourth roommate for their Edinburgh apartment. Juliet (Kerry Fox) is a doctor, Alex (Ewan McGregor) a reporter for a tabloid and David (Christopher Eccleston) an accountant. The trio isn't particularly friendly, as they crueally subject their interviewees to their sardonic sense of humor. But they soon choose an acceptable fellow to take the extra room. The perfect candidate Hugo (Keith Allen) dies from a heroin overdose on the very night he moves in. What's more, the trio discovers that his suitcase is packed with money. Juliet, David and Alex mull over this opportunity for more than a day before taking the risk, and keeping the money. It's the old story: fear, suspicion and paranoia soon take a toll. Juliet and Alex go on a foolish spending spree while David quietly freaks out. Convinced that a conspiracy is afoot, he stops talking to his roommates and hides in the attic where 'nobody can get at him.' Alex and Juliet try to convince David that everything is fine --- just as Hugo's murderous associates succeed in tracing the suitcase with the money. Not unlike Quentin Tarantino, the makers of Shallow Grave keep their show aloft with stylish visuals and sharp, flashy characterizations. Juliet, Alex and David's insular relationship is a too-hip-for-you private club, the kind in which friends feed off each other's desire to be ultra-clever. The trio finishes each other's sentences and laughs at all the right moments. Individuals outside their inner circle are fair game for whatever verbal abuse they care to dish out. The main instigator of group foolishness is the sharp-tongued Alex, while Juliet draws a personal satisfaction knowing that her male friends quietly lust after her. The more serious David is forever rushing to his boring accountancy job in a foul mood. We don't really like this trio. It reminds us of people we've met, that we've perhaps consciously decided not to judge. Most of the action is restricted to the one apartment. A large and attractive space, it is exploited very well by Danny Boyle's camera. The visuals are less mannered than those of Tarantino or the Coens, yet there is no lack of odd camera angles. The trio's midnight excursions to ditch various corpses are a foggy replay of Robert Louis Stevenson's story The Body Snatcher, with added details of gruesome dismemberment. David's retreat to the attic crawlspace seems a weird re-run of Hitchcock's Psycho. He knocks holes all over the ceiling through which he can observe his roommates, creating a forest of light beams that pierce the attic gloom. It's an instant expressionist effect. Shallow Grave delivers the expected violent confrontations and derives more than a few thriller situations from older models. Keeping track of the cash stashed in the suitcase is an issue. When Alex is assigned to report on the police investigation of the graves found in the woods, he finds himself retracing the reluctant steps of Edward G. Robinson in Fritz Lang's The Woman in the Window. If the point is to push English movies beyond the years of Merchant-Ivory gentility, Shallow Grave accomplishes its mission. These young adults are certainly not innocents. They do not for a moment concern themselves with moral issues; the intended message may be that their value system has been eroded by the new worship of money. In the U.K. post-Margaret Thatcher, the need for moral balance is just another sentiment to be mocked. The show is suspenseful and frequently funny: the one thing we know for certain is that the fade-out will be accompanied by a dead body or two... or maybe four. It's easy to see why Shallow Grave's actors did well. Christopher Eccleston's unhinged accountant is just as meticulous about bashing skulls and chopping up bodies as he is making his books balance. Kerry Fox's young doctor joins in the camaraderie but always keeps something essential to herself. And Ewan McGregor's smart-talking joker shows such a knack for recklessness and antisocial behavior, we feel certain that he's compensating for some perceived inner lack. Shallow Grave may be an almost generic stash-the-cash crime story, but its depth of characterization puts it ahead of most of its competition. The Criterion Collection's Blu-ray of Shallow Grave is a perfect encoding of this suspense hit from 1994. With the help of the filmmakers Criterion includes plenty of first-person extras. One feature-length commentary pairs John Hodge and Andrew Macdonald, while a second allows director Boyle free reign. This first feature was the beginning of a wave of hits for Danny Boyle: Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours. An interview featurette regroups the three stars to recap the production and filming seventeen years after the fact. Also present are a BBC making-of show produced during the filming and a video diary from 1992's Edinburgh film festival, showing the producers in search of financing to get Shallow Grave on its feet. A trailer is included as well as a teaser for Trainspotting; a folding insert contains an essay by Philip Kemp. For more information about Shallow Grave, visit The Criterion Collection. To order Shallow Grave, go to TCM Shopping. by Glenn Erickson

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Expanded Release in United States February 17, 1995

Expanded Release in United States February 24, 1995

Expanded Release in United States March 10, 1995

Expanded Release in United States March 3, 1995

Released in United States 1995

Released in United States August 1994

Released in United States January 1995

Released in United States June 2009

Released in United States May 1994

Released in United States November 1994

Released in United States on Video July 25, 1995

Released in United States September 1994

Released in United States Winter February 10, 1995

Shown at American Film Market (AFM) in Los Angeles February 23 - March 3, 1995.

Shown at British Film Festival in Dinard, France September 22-25, 1994.

Shown at Cannes Film Festival (market) May 12-23, 1994.

Shown at Edinburgh International Film Festival (Special Screenings - 15th Anniversary Digital Restoration) June 17-28, 2009.

Shown at Edinburgh International Film Festival August 13-28, 1994.

Shown at London Film Festival November 3-20, 1994.

Shown at San Sebastian International Film Festival (in competition) September 15-24, 1994.

Feature directorial debut for British TV helmer and former stage director Danny Boyle.

Began shooting September 27, 1993.

Completed shooting November 5, 1993.

Released in United States January 1995 (Shown at Sundance Film Festival (Premieres) in Park City, Utah January 19-29, 1995.)

Released in United States Winter February 10, 1995

Expanded Release in United States February 17, 1995

Expanded Release in United States February 24, 1995

Expanded Release in United States March 3, 1995

Expanded Release in United States March 10, 1995

Released in United States May 1994 (Shown at Cannes Film Festival (market) May 12-23, 1994.)

Released in United States June 2009 (Shown at Edinburgh International Film Festival (Special Screenings - 15th Anniversary Digital Restoration) June 17-28, 2009.)

Released in United States 1995 (Shown at American Film Market (AFM) in Los Angeles February 23 - March 3, 1995.)

Released in United States on Video July 25, 1995

Released in United States August 1994 (Shown at Edinburgh International Film Festival August 13-28, 1994.)

Released in United States September 1994 (Shown at British Film Festival in Dinard, France September 22-25, 1994.)

Released in United States September 1994 (Shown at San Sebastian International Film Festival (in competition) September 15-24, 1994.)

Released in United States November 1994 (Shown at London Film Festival November 3-20, 1994.)