If "The Famous Five" had been egotistical or unhinged, and allowed to hate one another to the point where you feel they could have turned cannibal, then they could have embarked on this dark, grisly adventure and been set free from the pages of sweet, innocent books. Nodding respectfully towards Lord of the Flies, but replacing an island with a hole, this lets the school weirdo, an obsessive, psychopathic bright-spark, send the girl he worships, Liz (Thora Birch), along with the three coolest kids in her class (two me-first know-alls and a cheerleader type) down into an underground hole for the weirdest weekend retreat. To top it off nicely, he ensures that they are locked in. This time away taps into the fact that Liz will do anything to get close to Mike, one of the two prats. Naturally, fear beckons, insecurity triumphs, egos rage and, eventually, blood flows.
This tale of teen angst (and what it can lead to), which is assembled for us by a now severely disturbed Liz, is inevitably recounted in flashback, and has great trouble in settling down. This is due to both tiresome back-and-forth camerawork, where the camera switches from one face to another and back again, and to a number of scenes where the rather effective build-up and clever plotting are trampled underfoot by an inappropriate or inane remark. The picture takes root much more when it considers at length exactly what happened in the kids' dark prison. As for Thora Birch, given that she has a much leaner role than the one she enjoyed in "American Beauty", the qualities which made her flourish in that multi-Oscar-winner are still abundantly clear.