Shallow Grave

Director: Danny Boyle
Screenwriters: John Hodge

Institute History


Black comedies are proliferating today, which certainly says something about the times we live in, and this droll film from Scotland, by first-time English director Danny Boyle, is a prime example of what makes the genre so wonderfully perverse and delightful. Shallow Grave is full of the quirky characters, offbeat humor, and quasi-violent bloodiness that infuse this type of film. But rather than descending into silliness or madcap hijinks, as all too often happens, it remains intelligent and sophisticated.

The story basically begins when three friends sharing a large apartment in Scotland seek a fourth roommate. Their interviews of the applicants are a series of mock inquisitions that are hilarious for their irreverence and their mean-spiritedness. When finally, Juliet takes a shine to Hugo, David and Alex decide to allow him to move in. Unfortunately, in short order they discover him dead in bed with a room full of drugs and cash. And when they decide to do what any greedy middle-class citizen looking for a better life would do—that is, keep the cash and chop up the body—they get into far more trouble than any one of them could ever have imagined. The twists and turns of the narrative are truly inspired as the three attempt to escape both the police and Hugo's friends.

Stylistically superb, Shallow Grave is replete with all the ingredients—acting, art direction, camera, and direction—of a perfectly entertaining production. The screen is often literally saturated with color. What’s more, it introduces another of a group of enormously talented young directors from Great Britain, Danny Boyle, from whom we will definitely be hearing in the future.

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details


As you use our Online Archives, please understand that the information presented from Festivals, Labs, and other activities is taken directly from official publications from each year. While this information is limited and doesn't necessarily represent the full list of participants (e.g. actors and crew), it is the list given to us by the main film/play/project contact at the time, based on the space restrictions of our publications. Each entry in the Online Archives is meant as a historical record of a particular film, play, or project at the time of its involvement with Sundance Institute. For this reason, we can only amend an entry if a name is misspelled, or if the entry does not correctly reflect the original publication. If you have questions or comments, please email [email protected]