A digitally lensed indie from 2001 that has yet to receive the
attention it deserves. MOLE is certainly one of the strongest subway-set
horror films of its era, ranking with, if not eclipsing entirely, the
likes of CREEP,
END OF THE LINE
and NIGHT TRAIN.
With all the SOV crap we’ve been subjected to in recent
years I find it astonishing that MOLE never received any kind of
legitimate theatrical or DVD release--although it did play the early-00s
festival circuit, where it won at least one prestigious award. Since
then, alas, it appears to have vanished.
New York reporter Susan Pei is intrigued by reports of
people murdered in abandoned subway tunnels. She enlists the help of her
cameraman friend Nick, and also the nerdy Tom, an apparent expert on the
subject, to investigate the area.
The three initially find the subway tunnels deserted.
Some searching turns up two surly homeless men who warn them not to take
a wrong turn lest they run into “Moles”--savage people who’ve lived
their entire lives in certain underground tunnels. Susan, Nick and Tom
are chased into just such a tunnel by the two men. Finding themselves
trapped, they split up, with Nick and Tom both venturing off by
themselves. As Susan grows increasingly giddy with fear Nick returns to
her side, but Tom doesn’t.
Susan and Nick venture further into what turns out to
be an increasingly surreal underground world. Human bones are found
scattered amid odd stone structures, and then the not-entirely-human
moles finally show up…
MOLE admittedly owes something to
THE BLAIR WITCH
PROJECT, with which it shares digitally shot handheld visuals
and horrors that never entirely reveal themselves. But it works
nonetheless due to the thought and care bequeathed by the filmmakers,
and also the on-location scenery.
Anyone who’s seen the mesmerizing
homeless-people-living-in-subway-tunnels documentary DARK DAYS (which
premiered around the same time as this film) will know that MOLE’s
makers didn’t have to do much to make their underground scenery look
scary, as the bleak garbage-strewn subway tunnels seen here are as eerie
and forbidding as any old dark mansion. Equally effective is the
flashlight-based illumination, which always leaves a portion of every
scene in darkness.
The film, alas, isn’t all good. The acting is
substandard at best, and one of the protagonists disappears far too soon
for the three-way character dynamic to make much of an impression. The
frequent cutaways to wide shots of New York City at night do nothing to
advance the action or denote the passing of time, as nearly the entire
film takes place after sundown. Still, this creepy and suspenseful
effort leaves a haunting impression, and deserves a look.
Mauro Entertainment/CineBLAST! Productions
Director: Richard Mauro, Anthony Savini
Producer: Richard Mauro
Screenplay: Richard Mauro, Anthony Savini
Cinematography: Anthony Savini
Editing: Magnus Akten, Andrea Beckerman-Harper
Cast: John-Luke Montias, Sam Tsao, James Cox, Conrad Glover, Martin
Gray, Tarik Kanne