Friday, November 11, 2011

The Hole (2009)

At a glance:
Veteran horror director Joe Dante brings his blend of scares and humor to The Hole, a modest and fun film

Our review (with spoilers):
Two brothers (Dane, played by Chris Massoglia, and Lucas, played by Nathan Gamble) discover a trap door hiding a bottomless hole in the basement of their home. Teaming up with the teenage girl next door (Haley Bennett), they attempt to discover who or what is lurking down there. But when each of them is attacked by the embodiment of their worst fear, they start to wish they had never opened that trap door in the first place.

The Hole is fun entertainment, with good performances by the three leads, and good supporting work from Teri Polo as the mom. There is even a quick cameo from Bruce Dern and an even quicker cameo from veteran horror star Dick Miller.

The Hole also has one of the cleverest reveals I have ever seen in a film: the three kids drop a video camera down the hole, then view the footage on their TV. They see a blob shape – just a shape – and are discussing that when the mom comes in. The kids turn away from the screen and explain that they are just watching TV. Meanwhile, on the screen, the blob turns to reveal a malevolent, non-human eye. The mom sees this (as does the viewer) but thinks it is just a TV program, and the kids don’t know it is there!

Veteran horror director Joe Dante laces The Hole with his classic sense of humor amid the shocks. This is a scary film, but it has a jovial mood. We are pretty sure that the three leads are not going to get killed. This is also a small film lacking big ambitions, and I mean that in a nice way. There are elements that reminded me of the expansive Poltergeist, but The Hole has no such aspirations. It is about three friends and a hole that is somehow linked to your worst fear – and that’s that. And for the most part, it is a success - except for some of the shoddy stop-motion used when various things are crawling back into the hole.

Rating:  2.75 of 4

Other reviewers said:
"Enjoyably old-fashioned horror from genre veteran Joe Dante, with a strong script, some suitably creepy sequences and superb performances from its young cast."
- Matthew Turner (ViewLondon)


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