AGAIN. THESE ARE SPOILER CONTAINING REVIEWS.
IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE THE RESULTS OF THIS STUDY THAT SAYS
YOUR ENJOYMENT OF A STORY DOES NOT DIMINISH IF YOU ARE “SPOILERED”
THEN STOP READING.
IF THERE IS NO WAY THAT YOU WILL EVER LISTEN TO THESE EVER,
THEN GO AHEAD AND READ ON.
WHAT DO I CARE.
YOU’RE JUST MISSING OUT ON SOME OF THE BEST RADIO PLAYS THIS SIDE OF THE 2000’s.
Story Summary: Two brothers spend their summer vacation on Cape Cod and discover a mystery.
When I was a kid living in New England I was lucky enough spend some time on Cape Cod for a handful of summers. (Shit–I still go up there as an adult. Love it there.) Still, I never had something as exciting or traumatizing as what happens in this story happen to me. And apparently something like this actually happened to Larry Fessenden, who wrote and directed this story. I love the brothers, Tommy and Nicky. They’re really natural together which is not only because they are actual brothers, but also because they are talented young voice actors. Unfortunately, it is because of the strong interaction between the brothers and the wonderful older version of Nicky as the narrator, it makes the mother’s lines and delivery of the dialogue stand out as really awkward and decidedly unnatural. When this happens in a radio play, it can really take you out of the story. But this is my only small complain about The Hole Digger. In terms of audio effects–the sound of gulls and water, the scraping sound of the hole digger and the beautiful and haunting sound of the Whip-poor-will add vividness to the fantastic narration. I love this story. I like the underlying angst of a family breaking up. I like the ambiguous ending, which is so appropriate for horror. I like the creepy old New England tale about the cry of the Whip-poor-will. So what do I think happens at the end? I think the supernatural idea of the hole appearing and appearing despite being re-filled and drowning Tommy against his will is just as satisfying as the idea that Tommy just couldn’t take his adolescent angst anymore and came up with the entire charade himself. I think Tommy is portrayed as dark enough (and upset enough about his father’s disappearance from his life) to believe either ending. To each their own interpretation because it is a fantastic story and makes my top 3 with ease.
I love this one, but I kind of hate it too. It has SUCH a great set-up, but it kind of tries to do too much. While certain Stephens might be blinded by nostalgia over their own boyhood shenanigans of boyhood shenanigannery, this story totally cops out at the end. OR DOES IT?? Ok, I think it does, but I can also appreciate that the openness of the ending lends itself to lively WHAT HAPPENED debate. Which is always fun. And while I agree with Stephen that stories can be great even if they lack solid resolution of what exactly happened (Pan’s Labyrinth is one good example), I think The Hole Digger dug itself into a hole–a PLOT HOLE, that is!–with this ending by not setting up enough details to support its finale. BUT that being said, it has awesome horror moments. It’s told from a young boy’s point of view, which adds that innocent-in-peril hook; it’s got the gruesome and mysterious happenings going on in an idyllic setting, and it’s a really odd, but believable and intriguing circumstance. There was just a bit too much going on for me. I think this might be because it’s based on a true story, and maybe the author tried to insert too many true details into his fictionalized version? But on the other hand, these details did help flesh out the story. So, even with my complaints on the ending, this is my favorite Tale. Two shovels up!
The setup for this story is about as classic horror as you can get. Maybe it is more relatable to me since my brother and I did everything together growing up, and we would have been fascinated by finding a hole like that on the beach. Whatever it is, this story had amazing atmosphere, and a setup where I was dying to find out what happened next, and at the same time worried for the kids. While certain Cams might be disappointed by the lack of a solid resolution at the end, I think some stories are better if we never really know what went on, as long as there are enough clues to let us as readers fill in the gaps. It makes storytelling an interactive experience– the listener takes part in connecting the dots and can make for an amazing experience, and an open ending can make the story stick with you much longer than a nice tidy conclusion.