- 18 Oct 10
There’s a lovely balance at work throughout the picture. The use of 3D is immersive without being joyless. The performances are beautifully natural.
Director Joe Dante first came to prominence as the purveyor of such fine kidult entertainments as Gremlins, Innerspace and The ‘Burbs. The director’s unique mastery of 1950s sci-fi showmanship and Chuck Jones licks can, as his many diehard fans will tell you, recall a younger, hipper Spielberg or Roger Corman in classy form, but in truth there’s never been anyone in American cinema quite like Dante.
The studios, inevitably and unhappily, have never really got Dante; like his old buddies Tobe Hooper and George A. Romero, the filmmaker has never had an easy time getting his movies off the ground or into a cinema near you. Indeed, this is his first picture since 2003’s Looney Tunes: Back in Action. To paraphrase one of his former leading men: ‘Ain’t that a stinker?’
This hiatus has, of course, given Dante time to make two excellent segments for the Masters of Horror project (Homecoming and The Screwfly Solution) and space to tinker with new 3D technology. Sure enough, The Hole displays a 3D literacy that makes Avatar look like the original House of Wax. And sure enough, it’s the best kidult movie since, well, the last Joe Dante flick.
The set up is a classic Twilight Zone riff. Chris Massoglia (Cirque du Freak) and Nathan Gamble star as bickering brothers who, fleeing an unnamed familial trauma, move to the sleepy town of Bensonville. Mom (Teri Polo), in the tradition of ET, works all hours leaving the boys with plenty of time to befriend the pretty girl next door (Haley Bennett) and to explore their creepy cellar, which – wouldn’t you know it? – turns out to function as a gateway to hell.
Soon all three kids must face down their deepest darkest fears including a clown doll that will reduce even the hardest horror movie hound to watching from between their fingers.
There’s a lovely balance at work throughout the picture. The use of 3D is immersive without being joyless. The performances are beautifully natural. The frights are scary but suitable for all ages. Indeed, the only nasty thing here is the rather harsh 15A rating. A rollicking ghost train ride, this is highly recommended viewing.