Film Review – The Hole

The Hole

When Lucas and Dane Thompson investigate the basement of their new house with their neighbour Julie, they are surprised to discover a trapdoor that covers a seemingly bottomless hole. Curiosity soon turns to terror when they realise that the hole somehow knows their deepest fears and uses them against them.

The Hole is Joe Dante’s film since Looney Toons: Back in Action (2003) and is a supremely creepy tale that will resonate with children and adults alike.

The fears of Lucas, Dane and Julie (clowns, creepy dead girls and abusive fathers) are not dumbed down, each is genuinely menacing and uses all the tricks of the trade to grab our attention. There are knowing nods to a number of other scary movies such as Poltergeist and Paperhouse while Dante shows he still has the flair for both comedy and menace as seen in such films as Gremlins and The ‘burbs.

The 3D is excellently realised and used skilfully, refraining from being overly gimmicky but providing an exceptional depth of field. The whole thing is smartly shot too, with a fantastic sense of atmosphere and some superb production design.

The three leads, Chris Massoglia, Nathan Gamble and Haley Bennett carry the film nicely, with Teri Polo dovetailing neatly as mom Susan. For true Dante fans there is also a “blink and you’ll miss it cameo” from stalwart Dick Miller, as well as a more substantial role for Bruce Dern.

Screenwriter Mark L Smith, best known for Vacancy has done a neat job of not patronising his audience, and while the fears may well be familiar, the plot has some neat little turns along the way.

There have been some snippy comments on the internet about PG-13/12A rated movies, as if the low rating means they can’t be scary. Newsflash – gore does not necessarily equal scary, and The Hole builds up tension and scares in a tight little bundle. While there is one plot point that makes no sense, I’m prepared to forgive that for the way it’s so neatly put together.

As for the rating, I took Junior Miss Moviegrrl (nearly 10) to see it, and while she loved it, she was also pretty damn scared and took a long time to get to sleep tonight (and not without tears). So unless your kid is really feisty, 12 is probably the minimum age to see this. But is much more than horror-lite for pre-teens and deserves a wide audience. As ever at the heart of this movie, as with most of Dante’s films, is a knowledge of how cinema works (as evidenced in his skillful handling of Real 3D) plus a love of people, with all their faults and foibles.

Quite possibly one of my films of the year, good to have you back Mr Dante…

The Hole is on general release in UK cinemas now

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~ by moviegrrlreviews on September 26, 2010.

2 Responses to “Film Review – The Hole”

  1. Nice! I too have been eagerly awaiting the return of Joe Dante, as well as the return of the good old 80’s-style kiddie horror. Glad to hear The Hole didn’t disappoint. I’m even more eager to see it now.

  2. […] god for directors like Joe Dante, who understands that children, at heart, love to be scared. With The Hole he has had the tweens quaking in their socks, and sleeping with the light on. In honour of scary […]

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