19 September 2010 | filmbantha
Perfect scares for the young horror fan
My first encounter with the world of Joe Dante was almost twenty years ago when i caught a glimpse of Gremlins at the tender age of four. At the time I was horrified, but as I grew up it soon became one of my favourite films, instantly capable of transporting me back to a time when horror films used to scare me. I was hoping that Dante would be able to recapture this magic, and The Hole left me wishing that I was a pre-teen with a wild imagination once again, heading into a horror film for the very first time. This made me very jealous of the younger crowd in the audience as they were clearly stuck fast in their seats, horrified by the visions that unfolded before them - their silence spoke louder than any screams - and desperate for the frightening film to end.
The nightmare begins when a single sprightly mother, her angst-ridden adolescent son Dane and nervous pre-teen Lucas move into a new house in a strange neighbourhood, only to discover a seemingly bottomless pit locked away under a trapdoor in the basement. Curiosity gets the better of the boys and it is not long before they lower a camera into the mysterious hole in an attempt to film the unknown, but, as video footage shows in one of the films eeriest moments, some things are better left undisturbed.
After exploring the darkness underneath the trapdoor, the boys begin to be haunted by strange events, with the hole seemingly preying on their individual fears. This provides the basis for a number of scary moments which are quite effective considering The hole is aimed at a younger audience, but it is unlikely to have any impact on those familiar with recent scary films such as REC and Paranormal Activity. The story still remains intriguing enough to keep older viewers entertained for the most part, and could well bring back long forgotten memories of their first encounters with the world of the supernatural films.
Horror fans hoping for a repeat of Gremlins will be disappointed, but that's not to say that The Hole should be dismissed; its constant references to classic horror films cannot replace the dark, warped humour that made Gremlins so watchable, but certainly adds to the experience for fans of the genre. Numerous scenes invoke connections to Poltergeist and The Gate, with the icing on the cake being a homage to the Hands of Orlac - a very under-rated thriller from 1935 - that I imagine will pass by unnoticed by the majority of viewers due to unfamiliarity with the source material, and they all serve to remind us that Dante is an ardent horror fan and is not afraid to wear his influences on his sleeve.
As a children's horror film The Hole is excellent but unfortunately it fails to surpass the genre classics such as A nightmare before Christmas and Gremlins due to the lack of appeal to an older audience. The story is fairly entertaining and the references to cult classics are a great addition to the film but they are simply not enough to keep older viewers fully engrossed for the ninety minutes running time. I would definitely recommend this film to families with young teenagers and children eager to be scared, as The Hole is a perfect introduction to horror films for those easily scared, and one of Joe Dante's more accomplished directorial efforts.
If you like this you will enjoy these:
The Gate Paperhouse Poltergeist Gremlins