Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
Feb 1st, 2013

The Hole

The Hole
Directed by Joe Dante
Written by Mark L. Smith
Starring Chris Massoglia, Nathan Gamble, Teri Polo
90 mins

I finally got a chance to get caught up with "The Hole" recently, and what's great about this is that it not only comes our way from a true master of horror in Joe Dante, but it's also got a nifty plot going for it. But can pedigree and plot make for a good movie?

"The Hole" joins Dane and his brother Lucas, who have just been uprooted from their lives in New York City at the behest of their mother Susan, who has decided to move the lot of them to Bensonville. While Dane has found a little bit to like about his new surroundings in the form of his new neighbor Julie--for obvious reasons to anyone who has ever been a 17 year old boy like Dane--Lucas isn't exactly having the time of his life at the ripe old age of 10. Susan, meanwhile, finds her job taking up a lot more time, and Dane and Lucas are left to entertain themselves. But down in the basement, under the house, is something the realtor probably should have mentioned: an ominous trap door, locked from the basement side. When the boys go to investigate by the simple expedient of a camcorder on a string, what they'll find is a lot more than they bargained for.

Joe Dante plus creepy premise plus realtor negligence should result in a delightfully awesome story. Thankfully, it starts well. The creepy, meanwhile, will be delightfully ratcheted up, and in what may well be the biggest stunner of all, this will do a wonderfully sound job of holding a PG-13 rating and yet being astonishingly creepy all at the same time. Sometimes, oddly enough, some of the best horror movies are those that can exercise restraint. "The Hole" will exercise all the restraint that anyone could ask for and then some.

I've never found myself with cause to praise a film's lighting before, but "The Hole" is going to do things with the combination of light and shadow that will be purely astonishing. I'm not sure how they did it, but it was like they were paying specific attention to the lighting to make it something truly impressive.

Oh, and special note for long-term Joe Dante fans; yes, Dick Miller will make a brief cameo as the pizza guy. Frankly, that's one of my favorite parts about Joe Dante releases: a good old fashioned game of "Spot the Futterman".

The ending, meanwhile, is a little on the trite side, but executed so well that the cliche takes on a new and ultimately more horrible life than some may have expected. It's almost cartoonish in nature, but that actually makes it more unnerving. Still, it's quite satisfying, and does a nice job in the end, complete with a bit of a twist. Stick around after the credits for one last little shock, too.

The special features will include audio options, Spanish subtitles, a making-of featurette, a couple of character featurettes, a set of stills, and a trailer for "The Forger".

All in all, "The Hole" will do a wonderful job of putting on a frightfest that's surprisingly lacking in objectionable content yet still has all the shocks, jumps, and good old fashioned ominous creepy that you could ask for. Powerful yet still fun, "The Hole" is a horror movie that delivers, and by a route so unusual that it's hard not to take notice.