Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Movie Review: The Hole (2009)

The Hole
The Hole - Joe Dante Horror - Poster Image

Written by Mark L. Smith
Directed by Joe Dante

Dane...Chris Massoglia
Julie...Haley Bennett
Lucas...Nathan Gamble

After moving some 2000-odd miles away from home, trying to run from one past trauma or another, brothers Dane and Lucas discover the titular hole hiding beneath a trap door in their basement. They, along with Julie, the hot girl next door, are unable to ascertain its purpose or its depth--indeed, it seems bottomless. But their poking and prodding in the dark pit unleashes an evil force that takes many forms depending on what they are most afraid of, terrorizing them and threatening the new lives they are trying to create for themselves.

The Hole - Joe Dante Horror - Staring into the hole

The actors all do a good job with their roles, even Nathan Gamble as Lucas, who was only eleven when this came out. Chris Massoglia plays teenage Dane well, though occasionally mush-mouthed, but that's probably just the emo coming out. Haley Bennett as Julie is gorgeous and coy, even if the character is sometimes too cool for her own good (she wears sunglasses indoors on at least one occasion). There were a few injokes for the seasoned horror viewer (Orlac's Gloves is the name of a local factory), and it's always nice to see Dante pals Dick Miller and Bruce Dern crop up.

The Hole - Joe Dante Horror - Haley Bennett bikini

And still, this movie disappointed.

(Warning: I'm about to speak in generalities.  Obviously there are exceptions to what I'm about to say, and an entire post could be made on the subject, but this is not that post.)

PG-13 horror films are always risky propositions. They're not intended for children, elsewise they would be rated G (or PG at most). They're not aimed at adults, or they would more than likely be rated R. Most often, they are aimed at teenagers who are in that odd middle demographic, but even then, they more than likely want to watch an R rated film instead. So in many cases, a PG-13 horror film isn't actually intended for any single age group. They are meant for families.

Family friendly horror should be mellow enough for the kiddos, but at the same time offer up enough darkness to keep the older ones interested. It's a difficult balance, but there are a number of films that have managed that balance quite well: The Monster Squad, Gremlins, Ghostbusters, and Arachnophobia to name a few. It's difficult to determine if these films would still be so beloved by us if our initial viewings of them had been as adults, or if a part of our enjoyment is derived from nostalgia.

Which is a long way of saying, we loved those movies. But how do our parents feel about them?

The Hole is a passable effort in the family-friendly horror vein, but I watched it alone, as an adult. Not as a kid or with a kid. Although there were a few instances of creepy imagery (a stutter-walking ghost girl cribbed from Japanese horror flicks actually manages to pull it off better than many of the films it is mimicking), most of the horror was understandably restrained. No self-respecting genre fan past puberty will actually find themselves frightened in any way by the proceedings--though I must admit that the killer clown doll was a badass little bastard.

The Hole - Joe Dante Horror - Killer clown puppet

Enjoyable enough for what it is, but what it is just doesn't add up to much. But the movie isn't meant for me...It's meant for me and my children.

And I don't have children.

92 Minutes
United States

"You've got a gateway to hell under your house.  And that is really cool."


  1. :\ Bummer. Joe Dante used to be the MAN.

  2. J2: Yeah, it was kind of a let down. Still, it's worth a least while it's streaming for free on Netflix.


  3. I started seeing this one but tuned out because of its kiddy nature as well, but I've always loved Dante's films, Explorers being one of my favorites, it seemed to me that with this one he was trying to go back to those types of films he used to make in the 80's, films aimed at preteens...still looking forward to finishing this one.

  4. Francisco: Hope you enjoy the film once you finish it. I'm all for filmmakers trying to recapture that age of merriment and wonder from when we were wide-eyed young viewers...I just wish they were successful more often.

    Thanks for stopping by!


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