The Hole is, I believe, intended to be a family-friendly (I can’t believe PG-13 movies are now supposed to be family-friendly) horror film directed by Joe Dante. As opposed to Dante directing a family-friendly horror film. It’s Joe Dante doing work for hire, something I’m not really familiar with him doing often.
Dante’s direction here is fantastic, even if there are the occasional “3D ready” shots. He actually doesn’t do too many of them and instead concentrates on maintaining a constantly ominous atmosphere. Only after the story resolves itself does the narrative get predictable and start falling apart. I’ve never seen those “Goosebumps” videos, but I imagine they’re a lot like the last fifteen minutes of The Hole.
But until then, it goes very, very well.
All of the credit goes to Dante, who doesn’t just construct the atmosphere, he gets good performances out of his young cast. The film’s short and small–it takes place almost entirely in one house–but the low budget doesn’t reveal itself until the end, when it wouldn’t matter anyway. So Dante’s basically got three actors–Chris Massoglia, Nathan Gamble and Haley Bennett–acting scared in a restricted area.
The script unfortunately requires Massoglia to frequently be way too thoughtless when it comes to younger brother Gamble’s safety, but Dante makes it painless.
Teri Polo has almost nothing to do. Her limited screen time still drags.
The Hole should have been a lot better, but it’s still rather decent. And just beautifully directed.
Great Dick Miller cameo too.
Directed by Joe Dante; written by Mark L. Smith; director of photography, Theo van de Sande; edited by Marshall Harvey; music by Javier Navarrete; production designer, Brentan Harron; produced by Claudio Fäh, David Lancaster, Michel Litvak and Vicki Sotheran; released by Bold Films.
Starring Chris Massoglia (Dane Thompson), Haley Bennett (Julie Campbell), Nathan Gamble (Lucas Thompson), Bruce Dern (Carl) and Teri Polo (Susan).