Shallow Grave (1995) - Rotten Tomatoes

Shallow Grave (1995)



Critic Consensus: This black-humored thriller features characters who are more obnoxious than clever. During the second half, the movie descends into gratuitous violence.

Movie Info

The feature film debut of Scottish director Danny Boyle was a dark, hip, Generation X comedy about a trio of Edinburgh roommates whose narcissistic greed fuels murder and betrayal. Boisterous journalist Alex (Ewan McGregor), flirtatious doctor Juliet (Kerry Fox), and meek accountant David (Christopher Eccleston) possess very different personalities, but the roommates are bonded in mutual, self-absorbed cynicism. Seeking a fourth boarder to share the rent for their stylish flat, they cruelly dismiss several candidates before settling on Hugo (Keith Allen), whose air of detachment meets the roommates' standard of coolness. Hugo's reserve masks criminal involvement, however, as the roommates discover when they find him dead in bed from a drug overdose, with a valise containing enormous amounts of cash. Their nascent greed overwhelms them, and the trio dismembers and buries Hugo, stealing his money. Only David, who understands finance, seems to realize that someone's eventually going to seek out such a large sum. As both drug dealers and police get closer to figuring out the friends' secret, shy, nerdy David becomes violently paranoid, while Juliet's allegiance switches back and forth between her roommates. Boyle teamed subsequently with producer Andrew Macdonald and screenwriter John Hodge on several high-profile films.more
Rating: R
Genre: Drama, Mystery & Suspense, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: John Hodge
In Theaters:
On DVD: Dec 22, 1998
PolyGram Video


Kerry Fox
as Juliet Miller
Ewan McGregor
as Alex Law
Ken Stott
as Inspector
John Hodge
as Constable
John Bett
as Brian McKinley
Kenneth Bryans
as Senior Police Office...
Elspeth Cameron
as Elderly Woman
Tony Curran
as Salesman
Bill Denniston
as Master of Cermonies
Paul Doonan
as Newspaper Office Boy
Victor Eadie
as Freezer Victim
Grant Glendinning
as Bath Victim
Victoria Nairn
as Woman Visitor
Gregor Powrie
as Young Policeman
Gary Lewis
as Male Visitor
David Scoular
as Cash Machine Victim
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Shallow Grave

Critic Reviews for Shallow Grave

All Critics (50) | Top Critics (14)

Class has its place, but some of us prefer our cut-'em-ups a little more lowdown.

Full Review… | February 13, 2001
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

The three ... especially Fox--do well.

January 1, 2000
The New Republic
Top Critic

A reasonably enjoyable (for those captivated by this sort of thing) black comedy/noir thriller.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Top Critic

Fox, McGregor and Eccleston merely mill around the screen like the kind of living-dead folks we usually see rising from the grave.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

[The characters] become less and less interesting as the movie progresses.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Washington Post
Top Critic

I'm not surprised that in my youth I thought Shallow Grave was a pretty cool movie. What surprises me now is that the adults at the time gave this ridiculous movie a pass.

Full Review… | August 21, 2012
Movie Metropolis

Audience Reviews for Shallow Grave


This debut from Danny Boyle is a tale of three dispassionate roommates who find their new flat mate dead with a whole lot of money in a suitcase, and a whole ton of cocaine. The rest of the film shows them turn on each other for a bid at the money, and the chance to walk away with everything. Because the characters are so flat and bitter, it makes the tension that much more unbearable. A pre-"Trainspotting" Ewan McGregor plays a cheeky narcissist named Alex, who seems to be the class clown, and the one who tries to make the fun last the longest. Christopher Eccelston is the gawky, forward thinking mate who falls into a fit of lunacy after facing the horrors of their plan. Kerry Fox is both unnaturally gorgeous and suspicious, making us unsure where her loyalty lies. As each seems to unravel at the seams, the tension mounts, as we watch them each hatch their successive plans, all the while keeping away the police. This is a great thriller, and a great start to Boyle's terse career.

Spencer S.

Super Reviewer


Danny Boyle's debut film is incredibly taut and chilling. With dark undertones and great performances (McGregor does very well), Boyle creates a moody thriller with an engaging plot but maybe with too loose of an ending.

Kase Vollebregt
Kase Vollebregt

Super Reviewer

Combine varying amounts of The Trouble With Harry with Blood Simple, and the result is something like this. Shallow Grave is the debut of maverick director Danny Boyle, and it's a pretty slick way to kick off a career.

The plot involves three self obsessed and rather cruel Edinburgh roommates who, after taking in a mysterious guy as their fourth tenant of their flat, find themselves in a world of trouble when the find him dead..with a big suitcase of cash under his bed. From there we are treated to a series of increasingly bad decisions, paranoia, and pretty messed up situations, all thanks to greed and man inhumanity toward his fellow man.

This is a really solid thriller that showcases Boyle's talent and trademark style and energy right from the get go. The film is absolutely pitch black with its offbeat humor, the cinematography and editing are kinetic and far from dull, and the twisty plot is a real delight to watch unfold.

None of the characters are really all that sympathetic, and normally I'd see that as a flaw. It is to an extent, but at the same time, it's also part of why the film works. We don't always need to be able to relate to everyone, and there really are people in this world as narcissistic and awful as our three leads.

Speaking of which, we get some fine performances from then pre-fame thespians Kerry Fox, Christopher Eccleston, and Ewan McGregor. They have a natural chemistry with one another, and tackle some tough material quite well.

The film does a lot of telegraphing of what Boyle would deliver later on, and that's cool. The film makes the most of its low budget, and proves to be quite a memorable piece of work that you should definitely check out.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Shallow Grave Quotes

– Submitted by Christian B (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Christian B (3 years ago)

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