Every film seems to get a 12A rating nowadays. If The Exorcist was released today, it would probably be rated 12A. Which may not be a ludicrous as it sounds, because The Hole is more frightening than The Exorcist. Strange but true, as the old television show of the same name informed us.
Teenager Dane and his younger brother Lucas discover a mysterious hole in the basement of their house, after moving to a new town. As the pair try to figure out the origins of the hole with their neighbour Julie, strange occurrences begin to take place…
Considering that the movie is aimed at a family audience and has child protagonists, The Hole is just about the scariest film of the year. What makes the frights so effective is the dependence on common fears. Whilst not every viewer will hold the same fears as the ones depicted, they are nonetheless universal enough that most can relate.
What heightens the tension in The Hole is the lack of authority figures. Whilst the boys live with their mother, she is frequently at work, and always out of the picture when supernatural incidents occur. Although on the one hand it is difficult to believe that Lucas or Dane will meet a grisly fate because of their ages and the nature of the film, on the other the brothers are put in pretty perilous situations.
Narrative-wise, The Hole offers nothing really original. It is quite typical of a supernatural, haunted-house style film. However, Joe Dante’s film excels in its execution of the chilling moments, which arise frequently. Like some of the best supernatural horror films, The Hole plays on the principle that it is the unknown that is most frightening. Therefore it is the scenes that suggest supernatural activity (through camera work, sound and editing), but show very little that are most potent. There is a real tension generated throughout the film, one that is only let down by the very last segment.
The performances of the cast are good overall. Chris Massoglia and Nathan Gamble at times seem to show a lack of apprehension at circumstances, but perhaps this is intentional given the target audience. Javier Navarrete’s score is highly effective; sound in this film goes a long way to generate tension. The art direction of the climax is pleasing, even if the scene itself is lacklustre compared to what precedes it.
The Hole is a film that should satisfy adult horror fans, despite being marketed at a family demographic. Take the kids; it will be character building for them.