Sunday, 3 October 2010


I'm only adding "3D" to distinguish from all the other The Holes that are out there. I was actually a bit annoyed that you could only see this film in 3D as I'd washed my hands of that whole pricey gimmick a while ago, and wanted to see the bog standard normal eyes version. But for some reason it's The Hole 3D or nothing at all. So I had to wear my stupid goggles, grin and bear it.

So this was a bit of a silly kiddy choice of film to go watch, but I'd been impressed with the trailer and its been garnering some good reviews. And I love this genre of film - family friendly horror - as I think it's so overlooked and ignored by most filmmakers today. I'm not talking about rubbish throwaways such as The Haunted Mansion and Casper - I'm talking about the films that you can still enjoy as an adult, but if you watch them as a child they'll shake up your world and give you nightmares for the next five years of your life. Films such as these (and Return To Oz - I have no idea how that was missed off the list). Films to reminisce about when you're at University and then bung on for a laugh. But inside you always remember.. I like to think The Hole 3D has already achieved such an alumni.

I have a lot of time for Joe Dante - I particularly loved The 'burbs which I can easily watch on TV on a Saturday afternoon. He's very good at bringing the creepy and the surreal to wholesome quiet suburban towns where not very much happens, but deep within the tree-lined lanes and flat green lawns there's actually a vortex of absurd supernatural goings on. And such is the setting for this film: a family move into their new home and it's not long before the two sons find a bolted up trapdoor in the house basement. Casually opening it up it reveals a dark seemingly bottomless pit, which their hot young female neighbour also comes to take a peek at. Fascinated by its weirdness, they begin examining and poking at it in further detail... and then horrible things start happening to them.

It's not exactly terrifying stuff, but there are some genuinely creepy moments in the beginning, such as the hobbling little girl in the bathroom who cries blood, and the evil jester clown who appears to be moving by itself. The concept of the film is also notably simple for its younger targeted audience: the hole sees into the soul and discovers your darkest fear, and then plagues you with it until you defeat it or go insane. It's called "the darkness" in the film, and this is really cleverly played upon when the freaked out kids go to visit the house's previous owner who now lives in an abandoned warehouse in a jungle of lamps and light bulbs to dispel the 'darkness'. That was my favourite touch of the whole film.

It does go downhill as the film draws to a close - traumatic back-stories are suddenly revealed and then tackled head-on by the kids who are now older and brave enough to face their fears. The eldest of the boys is terrified of his father, whose now in prison after throwing his fists at his family one too many times. It seemed odd to plump out the supernatural hijinks with a bit of domestic violence. Perhaps this was Dante trying to give a more complete approach to fears and nightmares - not all children have the luxury of being afraid of a monster under the bed.

The kids seem decidedly unfazed as the film progresses as well, their fear being almost put-on for the show, and when things really get down to business they confront the nightmares with ease. I know I shouldn't expect any less from a PG, but the acting could have been better.

I'm not going to urge you to fork out nine pounds to go and see this, but in a few years time when it is that Saturday afternoon rainy day film, then for enjoyment's sake you'll do well spending it in The Hole (not 3D. Unless we have 3D telly's by then. DEAR GOD, NO!)

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