Four reasonably attractive English art students decide that paying rent is for suckers, so they take up residence in a creepy, boarded up old mansion. Sure, squatting seems glamorous, but there are always unforeseen obstacles. Like no running water or electricity. Mysterious sounds in the night. And let’s not forget about the possibility of sharing the premises with a deranged surgeon who periodically gasses his new guests, straps them to an operating table, and removes their body parts—while the latter scream, curse, and plead.

It’s a well-dressed effort by writer/director Daniel Simpson (the setting is suitably bleak and dreary), but Spiderhole is neither gory or excruciating enough to be torture porn, and it’s too damn slow to be a haunted-house hack ’em up. Simpson valiantly tries to tie several gossamer-thin plot points together, but fails, as if finally throwing up his hands and admitting, “To hell with the story, let’s get back to cutting up the kids.” He haphazardly chooses to reintroduce a minor subplot about a girl who’s been missing for 10 years (who cares?!) at the very end of the film, but by then the viewer has forgotten all about this earlier allusion that really amounts to nothing, anyway.

The same pointless nihilism that (to me, anyway) makes Hostel and all those Saw movies so uninteresting is at work here. Simply binding a victim and hurting them while they struggle and cry (and maybe even escape a time or two), is skull-crushingly dull, unless there’s a reasonable explanation for doing so. Otherwise, you have, what exactly? Shrieking? Not scary, but very annoying, to be sure. Call me old fashioned, but I want to know why the victims are screaming and what they did to deserve it.

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