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Shallow Grave is a 1994 British crime thriller film that marks the directorial debut of Danny Boyle with an original screenplay by John Hodge.

The film also provided starring roles for the then unknown actors Ewan McGregor, Christopher Eccleston and Kerry Fox.

The production was funded by Channel 4 television and the film distributed by Polygram Filmed Entertainment who as with their other releases generated a large amount of publicity for the film on a limited budget.


The film stars Ewan McGregor in his first major film role, alongside Christopher Eccleston and Kerry Fox. The supporting cast is led by Keith Allen, Peter Mullan, and Ken Stott.McGregor's mother appears in the film briefly as a potential roommate.


Alex (McGregor), a journalist, David (Eccleston), an accountant, and Juliet (Fox), a doctor, are three friends who share a flat in Edinburghmarker. They need a new flat mate and, after a sequence of interviews (in which unwanted applicants are rejected with calculated cruelty), take in the mysterious Hugo (Keith Allen). When Hugo suddenly dies of a drug overdose they discover he has a very large amount of cash in a suitcase. The three decide to keep the money and to dispose of Hugo's corpse in the titular shallow grave. Straws are drawn to decide who is to dismember the corpse, and the unwilling David is lumbered with the task. The job complete, the three return to their daily lives. Alex and Juliet decide to spend some of the money, whereas David starts to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder from the incident. After discovering that Alex and Juliet have spent a lot of the money on meaningless items, he resorts to moving the suitcase into the loft and out of their reach. To make sure the money is safe, he eventually moves in the loft and seldom comes down except when the flat is empty.

A pair of criminals who had business with the deceased Hugo invade the flat and beat Alex's shins with a crowbar. Under duress he gives up the location of the money. Unaware that David is in the loft, one of the criminals enters it and looks for the money, only to be assaulted by David with a hammer. Hearing a soft thud, the other criminal enters the loft only to suffer the same fate as his friend. Both are disposed of in the same manner as Hugo, and David becomes increasingly psychologically unstable. After a few days, David starts to drill holes in the ceiling, which are either for light, ventilation or more possibly for viewing his flatmates. Alex manages to get into the loft and find the money, however on his descent he is confronted by David and a drill. Alex convinces David that he was not up there for the money but to make sure he was all right. Juliet, aware that David is becoming increasingly dangerous, buys a plane ticket to escape her flatmates.

A few days later, Alex is called upon by his boss to visit the scene of a crime where three bodies have been found, which turn out to be those of Hugo and the criminals. While Alex is investigating the scene, Juliet and David sleep together. Alex comes back to find that they have sided against him, blaming him for the discovery of the bodies because the grave was not deep enough. After a series of visits by the police, David decides to leave the flat with the suitcase of money. As he leaves he is confronted by Juliet who tells him to take her with him, which he refuses. He confronts her about the plane ticket, accuses her of trying to run off with Alex, then punches her. Alex retaliates on David and the fight spills into the kitchen where David grabs a knife and stabs Alex below the shoulder, pinning him to the floor. David grabs a second knife but is stopped by Juliet, who thrusts a knife through his throat from behind.

Juliet uses her shoe to pound the knife deeper into Alex, pinning him further to the kitchen floor. She exits with the suitcase, leaving Alex mumbling to himself as the camera pulls back.

The police discover Alex in the kitchen and he begins to smile. The film then cuts to Juliet, screaming in her car. She leaps out of the car, revealing the open suitcase—but, instead of money, the case is full of newspaper with the headline "TRIPLE CORPSE HORROR", carefully cut to the same pattern as the money. Secured to the stacks of newspaper is one solitary bank note. Juliet then rushes to the airport with no luggage.

The film then cuts back to Alex, who begins to laugh slightly. The camera shot pans down Alex and reveals the money, hidden under the floorboards to which Alex is pinned.


Reviews were positive. On, Shallow grave has a 'fresh' rating of 71% based on 41 reviews.


Track listing

  1. Leftfield – "Shallow Grave" – 4:38
  2. Simon Boswell – "Shallow Grave Theme" – 3:30
  3. Nina Simone – "My Baby Just Cares for Me" – 3:38
  4. Simon Boswell – "Laugh Riot" – 3:02
  5. Leftfield – "Release the Dubs" – 5:45
  6. John Carmichael Band – "Strip the Willow" – 3:12
  7. Simon Boswell – "Loft Conversion" – 5:45
  8. Simon Boswell – "A Spade, We Need a Spade" – 2:41
  9. Simon Boswell – "Shallow Grave, Deep Depression" – 4:49
  10. Simon Boswell – "Hugo's Last Trip" – 5:39
  11. Andy Williams – "Happy Heart" – 3:11


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