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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  • English: Dolby Digital Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • None
  • Teaser trailer
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Cast/crew biographies
  • Animated menus

Shallow Grave

Umbrella Entertainment/AV Channel . R4 . COLOR . 89 mins . MA15+ . PAL


For many, director Danny Boyle really made his mark with the rather dark tale of drugs and excess, Trainspotting. Others, however, were already well aware of the man’s work - and indeed his ability to look on the black side of life - with his 1994 directorial debut, another dark tale in Shallow Grave - his first collaboration with Trainspotting and A Life Less Ordinary producer Andrew Macdonald, screenwriter John Hodge and actor Ewan McGregor.

Shallow Grave revolves around the three inhabitants of a rather posh Edinburgh flat. Alex (Ewan McGregor), a rather rambunctious journalist; Juliet (Kerry Fox), a doctor; and David (Christopher Eccleston), a rather nerdy looking accountant (is there any other kind? (Amy ducks a flying calculator...))

Their auditions for a new housemate give as good an idea as any of their attitudes, as a procession of hapless misfits get the treatment at the hands of the three. You know, the usual questions about smoking, drugs, marital status, musical appreciation and, erm, goat sacrifices...

When supposed novelist Hugo (Keith Allen) pops up, however, Juliet is rather taken, and convinces Alex and David to let him move in. He duly does so, locks himself in his room and promptly disappears for days, leading the other three to break into his room to see what’s up. Confronted with a rather naked and rather dead Hugo, Juliet goes off to call the police – well, until they discover a suitcase stuffed full of more pounds than the combined weight of a field full of Dumbos.

They realise that something will have to be done with what’s left of Hugo, which is when things take a turn for the blacker. Disposal duties are arranged, however as the three live it up afterwards they don’t realise that some of Hugo’s dodgy mates are hot on his trail, as is a rather suspicious police inspector.

Their friendship is well and truly strained as a combination of greed, insecurity and different personalities takes hold, and the sheer gravity of what they have done begins to sink in. Some end up coming off better than others...

"If you can’t trust your friends, well what then?"


While some regions have been lumbered with a crappy full frame print of Shallow Grave on DVD, kudos must be given to Umbrella for sourcing what is a fairly impressive anamorphically enhanced, 1.85:1 transfer for this local release. There are a few gremmies on display, mainly in the form of speckles which seem to be more prevalent on certain occasions than others and ever so lightly washed out blacks. However, overall this is a surprisingly clean and pleasing print, displaying well balanced colour saturation, decent sharpness, reasonable shadow detail and very little in the way of grain. The layer change is rather noticeable, but is quite well placed regardless.


A surround encoded Dolby Digital stereo English soundtrack is provided, along with a French one that comes up labelled on the player as also being English. As much as Europe is becoming more and more one big amorphous blob all the time, I daresay our Gallic friends would not be particularly impressed...

Anyway, a good job has been done with the sound. There are some nice stereo effects, synching is spot-on and dialogue levels are well balanced. The only let down really is some very soft crackling that can be heard in a couple of quiet sections of the film.

The soundtrack combines efforts from fine purveyors of DOOF Leftfield with more traditional fare from Nina Simone and Andy Williams – the latter working rather well in its slightly odd context here. The score comes courtesy of Simon Boswell, and suits the action nicely.


The extras section is a little shallow itself, apparently as little was available. What we are left with is...

Animated menus: Stylishly presented, a certain rather macabre scene from the film plays away in the shadows accompanied by some headshots of the main cast.

Cast and crew biographies: Some fairly thorough information on actors Ewan McGregor, Kerry Fox, Christopher Eccleston, plus a further bio on Danny Boyle.

Theatrical trailer: Full screen, rather monaural sound, extremely speckly at times and colour-wise a little dull. As trailers go, however, this 2:13 example is quite a snappy and effective one.

CD soundtrack: A single page ad for the CD that doesn’t even include a track listing. If you’re after an example of something pointless then this is a prime one...

Umbrella propaganda: Trailers of varying quality for My Beautiful Laundrette, Last Seduction, Malcolm and What’s Up, Tiger Lily?.


Shallow Grave veers a captivating course between comedy and utter gruesomeness, often displaying some extremely disturbing examples of violence. While it won’t be appreciated by the more squeamish viewers out there, anybody with a strong tummy that appreciates an incredibly stylish, involving thriller that's not predictable from the very outset should find this absolutely enthralling.

Forget the lack of extras in this case, as if you’re a thriller fan unlike many releases of late Shallow Grave is well worth investing in for the film alone.

But then again, maybe you’re better off trusting no-one?

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1196
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      And I quote...
    "Anybody with a strong tummy that appreciates an incredibly stylish, involving thriller that's not predictable from the very outset should find this absolutely enthralling..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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