Review by Jack Foley
IT’S been a while since we’ve heard from Joe (Gremlins, Piranha) Dante in cinemas but his comeback movie The Hole 3D is fully worth the wait.
A kids in peril movie that’s actually a lot creepier than many entries in the torture porn horror directory (and that’s despite a 12A certificate), the film benefits from the presence of a director who will admit to being wilfully subversive and who knows his way around the genre.
Dante, of course, has turned genres on their heads before, most notably with his parody of Jaws with Piranha and his anti-ET in the form of Gremlins. He also credits kids with having a greater threshold for scares than, perhaps, the censors give them credit for, while playing on life-long adult fears that make his movies accessible to audiences of all ages.
The Hole is no exception, picking up as doctor Susan (Teri Polo) moves with her two children, teen Dane (Chris Massoglia) and younger brother Lucas (Nathan Gamble) to a small American town in a bid to start a new, safe life.
At first put out by the switch, the kids’ enthusiasm for their new environment is buoyed considerably by sexy girl-next-door Julie (Hayley Bennett), until they happen upon a bolted up trapdoor in the basement and foolishly decide to investigate what lies beneath.
Once opened, however, the kids find that their own worst fears are literally brought to life to terrorise them until they can find a way to confront and put them in the past.
Admittedly, Dante’s film harks back to more old-school values than a lot of modern day horror films and wears its ‘80s sensibilities on its sleeve (Flatliners is one of a number of films that spring to mind). But then that’s a huge part of the fun.
The Hole doesn’t so much gross you out as chill you to the bone, making good (but limited) use of its 3D and playing on the mind as the biggest weapon in its arsenal. Hence, it’s more about being afraid of things that go bump in the night, or evil looking clowns, but no less effective for it.
And some of its themes are extremely dark… touching upon issues that are maybe a little too intense for younger viewers.
That said, Dante gets the mix just right… slow-building the tension by first allowing audiences to develop an appreciation and care for the main characters as, for once, the teens aren’t precocious but flesh and blood human beings who are genuinely worth rooting for.
Massaglia and Gamble make a believable couple of siblings, who bicker and fight but clearly love each other, while Bennett adds a flirty presence that’s just the right mix of sensuality and fear.
The use of gimmicky 3D is present, but not overdone, thereby enabling Dante to have some real fun with the use of shadows, lights and jumpy moments.
Hence, The Hole is an expertly constructed and hugely enjoyable throwback to a more traditional form of filmmaking that chills and excites in equal measure. It’s great to have Dante back.
Running time: 92mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: January 17, 2011
- Buy it on DVD (Amazon)
- Buy it on Blu-ray (Amazon)
- Read our review
- Joe Dante interview
- The Hole Photo Gallery