A younger audience orientated horror adventure that
will have all reveling in its clever atmospheric.
There was a time,
mainly in the 80s, when Hollywood excelled in creating scary movies very much
aimed at the ‘kid’ spectrum. The likes of Ghostbusters (1984), Beetlejuice
(1988), The Monster Squad (1987) and, crucial to The Hole, Gremlins (1984) were
films that appealed to younger audiences
thanks to their horror film routes but age friendly ratings. The Hole, from
Joe Dante the man who gave us
Gremlins, is a hark back to this tradition and a welcome one considering this
particular genre’s absence in the mainstream.
Dane (Massoglia) and Lucas (Gamble) are brothers who have just
moved from The Bronx to a small American town. Venturing down into their new
basement they discover The Hole, a seamlessly bottomless pit. However, once the
trap door to The Hole is open strange things begin to happen. Joined by their
new next-door neighbor Julie (Bennet)
the trio investigates what lurks in the darkness. The problem is that once the
darkness has seen them it knows their greatest fears and begins to manifest
them into reality.
As far as the
plot goes The Hole is reminiscent of
Stephen King’s ‘It’ in the way it handles childhood terrors, indeed there
is even a disturbing clown on offer, mixed with young Stephen Dorff starrer The
Gate (1987) which also found a group of children releasing evil entities from a
hole in their backyard. Crucially though
it is aimed at an audience too young to get into the bloody horrors of the Saw
franchise and too old to be satisfied with the almost scares of such things as
In many ways the
marketing for the film sells it short. By
choosing to focus on the ‘kids’ side of the film the trailers negated to point
out that The Hole is a bonafide horror movie. What it lacks in gore and
more adult based thrills it more than makes up for in invention. The concept
that The Hole can create a physical representation of your most primal fear is
one that is well defined and strikingly executed here.
Joe Dante knows
how to delve into the core fear centre of his audience’s mind and here uses it
to good effect. Keeping his camera firmly focused on the characters allows
their fear to become infectious hence meaning that there is little need for CGI
gimmicks or loud noise jumps. There are one or two moments that are clearly
intended to be seen in 3D but thankfully for the majority of home viewers these
are kept to a minimum. Instead Dante
toys with us, much like the malevolent force in The Hole, before pulling the
rug from beneath us and even finding time to dabble in Tim Burtonesque gothic
manners towards the climax.
The three main
cast members all being relative youngsters always run the risk of falling into
the realms of irritating but here they all perform their roles with confidence.
Massolgia is no stranger to playing the lead, having done so in The Vampire’s
Assistant (2009), and here brings enough of a churlish swagger to the role of
Dane to make him just the right side of interesting. Gamble, as the young Lucas,
is able to bring a heartfelt innocence to his angelic look while remaining
obnoxious enough to be entertaining. Bennet does well as the female interest
Julie who harbors a dark secret but manages to avoid falling into the trappings
of being a damsel in distress and instead becomes the plucky driving force
behind the group.
It is the kind of
film that such filmmakers as M. Night Shymalan should be looking to make rather
than dross like The Last Airbender. The
Hole has the ability to suck you in before delighting and thrilling in equal
measure. Upon discovering The Hole Julie exclaims that there is “a gateway
to hell under your house and that is really cool”. In fact The Hole is dark enough and deep enough to be more than just simply
really cool but also extremely enjoyable.