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Reviewed by: Ammon Gilbert

Directed by: Joe Dante

Chris Massoglia
Nathan Gamble
Haley Bennett

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What's it about
A mom and her two sons move into a new house in a new neighborhood in Suburbia U.S.A. and discover a hole in the basement that, when opened, unleashes their worst fears into the real world in the form of killer clown dolls, dead little girls, and abusive fathers.
Is it good movie?
Director Joe Dante is one of the few genre directors from the ‘80s who had an absolute perfect knack for directing horror with a tongue-in-cheek feel that was fit for adults and children alike. From the original PIRANHA to such classics as GREMLINS and THE ‘BURBS, the man knows how to craft fun little horror movies that are suitable for children (more or less), but with enough creeps to entertain the hell out of just about everybody. Returning true to form is the long-awaited and much-anticipated flick THE HOLE, a film finally seeing its releases on Blu-ray and DVD.

Dante returns to form here, providing a likable set of pre-teen and teenage leads in the form of Chris Massoglia and Nathan Gamble (as brothers) and their smokin’ hot girl next door neighbor Haley Bennett. When the trio happens upon the creepy door in the floor of their basement and decides to unlock it and see what’s down there, you don’t hate them for it but rather side with their eagerness to explore and check out all the cool possibilities of what could be down there. Of course, the bottomless pit in the basement is actually more than just a hole in the ground but a gateway for evil to come out in the form of their worst nightmares. And the fact that one of their worst nightmares is a clown doll like the one seen in POLTERGIEST makes the kids even more relatable. Who doesn’t fear the f*ck outta clowns?

From there the film takes a turn into the supernatural and the creeps, with the introduction of a dead little girl creeping around and other related monsters, not to mention the awkward teenage romance between Massoglia and Bennett. And for the most part it all works pretty damn well, in that innocent “if I were a kid I’d be all over this movie” kind of way, providing the similar effect of GREMLINS or even SMALL SOLDIERS had on audiences upon their release. Given, not quite as classic as GREMLINS, but above SMALL SOLDIERS in most regards.

The trio eventually attempts to find answers by finding the hole’s previous owner in the form of Crazy Carl, played by the wonderful Bruce Dern. The dude’s crazy antics, yet underlying creepiness, also helps the whole sense of adolescent wonderment that the film has going for it, the same way shite like GOONIES had. Very cool, if brief, appearance by Dern as well as the Pizza Delivery Guy… watch for him, if you blink, you’ll miss it!

The flick is solid for the first ¾ of the movie but unfortunately loses what it had going for it in the final act, when the hole stops being creepy and supernatural and starts being fantastical, with the final fear being a little too “real” for my liking. That is, with their biggest fear being a real-life monster, it takes away the fun that something like a ghost or a clown doll had earlier in the film. Thus kick-starts the final battle with their ultimate fear and it goes from bad to worse, with all sorts of goofy effects and over-the-top set pieces, turning this movie into a flick only kids under 12 will likely enjoy.

It should be noted here that THE HOLE was filmed with the intention of being released in 3D and was filmed using 3D cameras, making the final battle sequence make a whole helluva lot more sense in that, if seen in 3D, it would probably have been pretty damn awesome to watch as a 3D experience. However, on your 2D TV in the comfort of your own home, even in glorious HD, the 3D is lost and the final sequence is just too kid-centric and fantastical. Other 3D shots are used frequently throughout the film and I kept thinking that, if seen in 3D, the flick would have been a damn fun ride from beginning to end.

Video / Audio
Video: The film is presented in an anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio in full 1080p HD. It looks absolutely fantastic, and makes you wish even more that you were actually watching it in 3D.

Audio: THE HOLE’s creepy sounds and special effects blow out just fine in the 5.1 DolbyHD surround sound mix, as if you were actually there in the middle of it all.

The Extras
A Peek Inside The Hole: The filmmakers talk about filming in 3D and a number of the special effects shots used throughout the film. If you’re really into the look of this movie or how modern 3D movies are made, this may be of interest, otherwise… pass.

Making of The Hole: Your typical ‘making of’ featurette with interviews with the cast and crew of THE HOLE and how awesome everyone was to work with. I’m not particularly a fan of this type of featurette, but they make enough of them like this that there has to be some people out there who actually find this interesting.

Relationships: Family Matters: The kid actors and writers of THE HOLE sit around talking about the importance of family in the movie. A weird feature in that the one thing I kept thinking about was… who cares?

The Keyholder: Keeper of The Hole: Dante, Gamble, and producers talk about the character of Creepy Carl, played by Bruce Dern, and how Dern portrayed him. This is cool, but kind of bizarre that Dern himself isn’t featured or interviewed here at all. Where’s he at?

Movie Stills: A bunch of stills from THE HOLE strung together with the film’s score in the background. Meh.

The film is also presented on DVD in this combo pack, so you can enjoy it regardless of if you have a Blu-ray player or not.

Last Call
Joe Dante returns to his roots and directs an entertaining kiddie horror flick that inspires that sense of awe and wonderment that one only feels as a kid. With plenty of creepy moments and fun at the center of it all, THE HOLE is mostly an enjoyable little flick that unfortunately loses its steam by the final act and transforms into something that is far too fantastical for its own good. Weak special features and no 3D option on the Blu-ray makes this a solid view, but not necessarily one that people should seek out and buy.
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