by Tony Dayoub
Though its release has been held up for three years in most parts of the country, Joe Dante's The Hole has garnered a limited theatrical release in 3D before its upcoming DVD/Blu-ray debut. Rated PG-13, The Hole is a creepy, funny film perfect for everyone from mature tweens to parents and the young at heart. On the scare-o-meter, it falls somewhere between the Goosebumps TV show and Poltergeist, two properties it's reminiscent of. Fans of Joe Dante (Matinee) should be particularly pleased to see the director of films like Gremlins and The Howling continue serving up scares while accurately depicting the sensibilities his young leads.
Leaving behind an abusive dad, Dane (Chris Massoglia) and Lucas Thompson (Nathan Gamble) move to a small town with their young mom (Teri Polo). Coming from Brooklyn, Dane is more upset than the others about having to adjust, until he spots the pretty girl next door, Julie (Haley Bennett), who's up for some thrills to break the monotony of small-town life. She joins the two boys in investigating a strange hole Lucas finds in their basement, securely shut with about 6 padlocks until the kids get curious. But the brave explorers get more than they can handle when they find out that the hole is a receptacle for their worst fears.
As he often does, Dante balances comedy and frights with a healthy dose of quirkiness to deliver a movie that is both fun and suspenseful. The director's choice of chilling images—a clownish doll, a ghostly little girl, and a faceless hulking figure—border on the cliche, but are invested with a primal quality of fear that perfectly applies to this story. Adults will find themselves drawn in by the mystery surrounding the hole. (The answers are held by the Thompson home's previous owner, a kook named Creepy Carl played by the aptly cast Bruce Dern in a cameo.) Younger viewers should find the banter between the three leads diverting and funny, while the youngest of moviegoers shall be frightened enough that having an older guardian around is a good idea. Whatever your age, The Hole is a small, scary gem worth a trip to the theater.
The Hole opens tomorrow in 3D exclusively at AMC Theatres throughout Metro Atlanta and Los Angeles. It opens in St. Louis on November 10th. For more information, click here.
The 2D version is available on DVD and Blu-ray on 10/2.