Directed by Tom Geens
Country: Belgium / France / UK
“Couple in a Hole”, Tom Geens’ directorial sophomore feature, is a haunting experience somewhere between the mystery and the psychological drama, whose tones are absorbed with a certain apprehension.
Doing much with little, the Belgian writer/helmer invites us to peek at a Scottish couple, John (Paul Higgins) and Kara (Kate Dickie), who live like two cavemen, secluded in a French mountain, after they had lost their son in a tragic accident.
Apart from the civilization, which is not so far from the hole they inhabit, the couple barely eats to survive and is considered in danger with the approximation of the winter, which always brings an agonizing cold and devastating hunger.
John pursues rabbits and picks herbs, mushrooms, and occasionally worms that his wife gobbles up with pleasure. Kara does the opposite. She rarely leaves the hole because of anxiety and panic. However, she’s making an effort to get out more with the help of her forbearing husband whose true will is to get back home, abandoning that place forever. Lucid of their situation, John is visibly tired of that life, but the highly traumatized Kara, who refuses any help from strangers and often suffers from hallucinations, stops his intentions. She says she feels the presence of her son and can’t leave. The anguish took her mind.
When happily celebrating a rainy day outside, Kara is bitten by a poisonous spider, a situation that requires an urgent application of medicine. This setback forces John to look for an antidote in the village, getting the desired help from Andre (Jérôme Kircher), a stubborn but generous local farmer who had tried to establish contact with him before. After that, Andre keeps coming to the mountain in order to offer them food. Famished, John tries to cast him away, but ultimately cannot resist the homemade delicacies. The two men become friends but their wives, for different reasons, oppose vehemently to this connection.
The film pulsates with uncanny vibes, thanks to the stimulating performances and the ominous woods that overload even more the shadowy story.
The revelations and disclosures are a bit too predictable for us to elevate this indie thriller to a superior category. Nevertheless, mysterious energies are successful emanated from the scenes and a fair watch is made certain.
Mr. Geen is a director to keep an eye on.