The Bottom Line
- Good cast
- Intriguing mystery
- Jarring mix of horror and family fare
- Takes a while to get to the interesting part
- Starring Chris Massoglia, Haley Bennett, Nathan Gamble, Bruce Dern, Teri Polo
- Directed by Joe Dante
- Rated PG-13
- DVD Release Date: October 2, 2012
Guide Review - 'The Hole' DVD Review
Although his early directorial efforts included notably R-rated fare like The Howling and Piranha, Joe Dante has since devoted himself almost exclusively to family-friendly fare like Gremlins, Small Soldiers, Innerspace and The 'Burbs. The Hole falls squarely in that wheelhouse, with an accessible, tween-skewed approach and an old school '80s flavor -- sort of The Gate meets House -- that includes refreshingly tactile special effects and puppetry. It actually, for better or worse (most likely the latter), has the look of a Nickelodeon or Disney Channel TV movie -- perhaps due to the film used, or maybe the fact that it was shot in 3-D.
Just when you think it's going to be an Ozzie and Harriet aw-shucks affair, though, The Hole trots out some imagery sure to give 10-year-olds nightmares (it's PG-13, after all, not PG), its clown doll seemingly an homage to my generation's infamously scarring Poltergeist scene. But the mix of adult and juvenile fare is at times awkward, as if it's trying too hard to maintain a family-friendly appeal. The best PG-13 horror movies (like The Sixth Sense, The Others or Insidious) earn their ratings organically; they just try to tell a scary story well, and if they happen to end up with a PG-13 rating, so be it. The Hole feels more calculated.
That said, the cast performs well, particularly Haley Bennett (The Haunting of Molly Hartley) as Julie, with veterans like Teri Polo and Bruce Dern serving as ballast for the youthful leads. While the film begins with the potential to be unbearably saccharine, it becomes more interesting as the plot gets deeper and darker. I still can't rank it amongst the best family-friendly horror fare, but if you're a parent of a kid yearning for something spooky that won't scar him or her for life, The Hole should fit the bill.
Special features include featurettes, bonus footage, stills.