Director: Joe Dante Starring: Chris Massoglia, Haley Bennett & Nathan Gamble Synopsis: “A pair of brothers stumble upon a mysterious hole in their basement that leads to the darkest corridors of their fears and nightmares.” Runtime: 92 minutes Rating: 12A
“I know what you’ve got. You’ve got a gateway to hell under your house. And that is really cool. “
The Hole, or The Hole 3D if you will, was a film I feel many missed on its initial release way back in 2010. Directed by Joe Dante, it’s the kind of fun, family friendly but still somehow scary movie he made his name on in the 1980’s. Featuring a cast of three very likeable kids, brothers Dane (Massoglia) & Lucas (Gamble) and girl next door Julie (Bennett) who find a hole under the siblings new home, which may or may not be a gateway to hell, The Hole is a solid old-school family horror movie which plays to its strengths and toys with our personal fears.
The Hole consists of fairly simple premise; Dane & Lucas are constantly being carted around the country by their mother Susan (Teri Polo) for reasons unknown to the audience. She believes they have finally settled in a quiet countryside town where not a lot happens, as she has to pay the bills though Susan spends most of the time at work and off-screen. The boys spend their time away from school (it’s the summer holidays) generally messing about, causing minor trouble and making friends with the cute girl next door (Bennett), when one day they find a deep, deep hole underneath their new home. The hole seems to be bottomless, and so Dane & Lucas along with Julie set about trying to find out what is lurking down there.
Although the plot does revolve around a simple premise, it works well, keeping the plot minimal and easy to follow, while the audience is allowed to grow attached to the three leads, and it’s these three who really make this film enjoyable. While director Joe Dante crafts some good scares, it’s the patience given to the children and the fears they have to confront throughout the film that really makes it work.
Fear is a big part of this movie. What lies within the hole? What does each child fear the most, and can those fears, however simple, become a haunting reality? The film deals with these issues, and attempts to dig a little deeper with some of them but the film flounders a little when trying to contemplate the real meaning behind our fears, or when it tries to compare them to the real issues we come across growing up.
The film really succeeds when Dante tries to scare us. Dante has directed some fine films during his career, the excellent Gremlins, Gremlins 2 & Small Soldiers to name but three meant he had the family orientated horror/action genre cornered. Even though his films are suitable for all to watch, there remains a certain creepiness to his movies and particularly so in The Hole. As well as the general level of creepiness seemingly raised to ten, Dante also crafts a fair amount of tension for a 12A rated movie.
While the tender age rating, and the almost child friendly horror will not please the more hardcore genre fan, The Hole remains a sharp and clever horror movie. With nods to the likes of The Ring and Child’s Play there are enough scares here to please most and is certainly a movie with replay value.
In summary: A clever horror movie, led by three charming leads and with some adept direction from Dante. The Hole is a pleasing genre film, and while it may not appease the real gore fans out there, it can still be a stepping stone into the genre for the next generation of horror fans.