The Hole Blu-ray Review
Directed by Joe Dante
Written by Mark L. Smith
2009, Region B (UK) 92 minutes, Rated 12A (UK)
Blu Ray Released January 17th 2011
Chris Massoglia as Dane
Haley Bennett as Julie
Nathan Gamble as Lucas
Teri Polo as Susan
Bruce Dern as Creepy Carl
When brothers Dane (Chris Massoglia) and Lucas (Nathan Gamble) move into their new rented home, they discover a locked trapdoor in the basement. Enlisting the help of the neighbour’s daughter, Julie, the kids do what you’d expect them to; instead of leaving the half-dozen padlocks intact, they move heaven and earth to remove them. And with heaven and earth moved, they’re left with just one thing – hell.
Like in many of his previous movies, director Joe Dante (Gremlins, Small Soldiers) makes a group of kids the protagonists of the story, which sets some ground rules by default. First, none of them will be killed. If 18-rated material doesn’t normally step into that arena, then a film classified 12A certainly won’t. Secondly, they will be victorious and everyone will live happily ever after.
So, given the confines that the story must operate within, it’s remarkable that Dante has produced a good old-fashioned chiller that manages to toe the line with the kids yet still serve up scares-a-plenty for the audience. The black space beneath the trapdoor allows out the darkest fears of those who look into it. Lucas, the youngest of the trio, is scared of clowns so if you also suffer coulrophobia you can imagine what kind of things come out to taunt him. And when the hole isn’t making his life a misery, older brother Dane tries his own brand of aversion therapy by leaving spooky clown dolls lying around the house.
Dane is plagued by early memories of an abusive father, and it transpires this is also the reason for their mother moving them to a new town. They move house to escape and while one door on their life closes, the kids go and choose to open the worst possible other one. Julie has her own skeletons, and these get delivered to her in a fashion that wouldn’t be out of place in a recent J-Horror. To beat the malevolent force within the hole, the kids have to do what kids don’t really do well and face up to their innermost fears to conquer them.
When it originally screened in cinemas, it was shown in 3D and there are a number of scenes that have clearly been filmed to emphasise the depth of field to full effect. Quite surprising then, that Entertainment One has chosen to release The Hole on DVD and Blu Ray in only 2D, and not take advantage of the growing home 3D market.
If you want to see an example of how good storytelling and atmospheric set-pieces can really get under your skin and creep you out, look no further than The Hole. Billed as ‘family-friendly’ horror, it should really only be considered for family movie-night if your kids are grown up or aren’t likely to get spooked by some extremely creepy scenes. While the film is low on gore and violence it more than makes up for it with genuine scares in the best traditions of horror cinema.
Video and Audio:
The Blu Ray is presented in a flawless 1080p 1.85:1 transfer which is maybe just a bit too pristine. Barely a hint of any film grain it looks extremely digital with not a great deal of character to it. The DTS-HD Master Audio is great and provides an excellent soundtrack to the on-screen action.
As mentioned above, there's a prominent lack of a 3D version of the film, especially as the Italian two-disc edition boasts stereoscopic and anaglyph presentations of the feature. Features on the disc are limited to a 'Making of' featurette (11 minutes), some raw footage of interviews (15 minutes, much of which is edited for use in the 'Making of') and a 'Behind the Scenes' segment which is little more than footage of the cast killing time between takes. Considering the ample capacity of the disc the extras are a little thin on the ground. No sign of a director's commentary either, which is almost expected these days.
*Note: The screenshots on this page are publicity images and not a reflection of the Blu-ray image.*
Want to comment on this review? You can leave one below or head over to the HorrorTalk Review Forum.