Film Review: The Hole 3D | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Film Review: The Hole 3D

Director: Joe Dante
Cast: Chord Overstreet, Teri Polo, Bruce Dern
Running Time: 92 minutes
Certificate: 12A
Released: 22nd September

Joe Dante (Gremlins, Small Soldiers) returns with an action adventure that will entertain children and adults alike.

The Hole 3D has a classic 80s Goonies-style premise: three suburban kids discover a bottomless hole in their basement and naturally decide to investigate. As the film develops, the kids realise that the hole churns out their worst fears and they must overcome these fears before the credits roll.

The young cast - Chris Massoglia, Nathan Gamble, Haley Bennett - are all great. They are clearly having a great time, and manage to be believable, but likeable enough to carry the entire movie themselves. There is very little opportunity for adult actors to steal the limelight: a mistake made by numerous recent children’s films which practically pander towards cameos made by veteran actors.

That said, Bruce Dern (The Burbs) is suitably deranged as the obligatory helpful mad man, and Teri Polo (Meet the Parents) provides sound support as the mother. Dante fans should also watch out for Dick Miller’s cameo as the pizza delivery guy - Miller has appeared in every one of Dante’s films, and frequently crops up in Roger Corman and James Cameron flicks.

However, the real star here is Dante himself, back on form after some terrible film choices …remember Looney Tunes: Back in Action? In The Hole, Dante gets to exercise – and indeed combine – his two most familiar genres: the family action-adventure and horror.

The former is glimpsed through the characters themselves. These are real kids with real problems: moving to a new place, battling boredom in a quiet town and having a crush on the hot girl next door. Plus, Dante is not afraid to litter his film with stereotypical American teen motifs: they eat pizza, visit local diners and arm themselves with baseball-related equipment.

Dante’s horror roots (Piranha, The Howling and Gremlins) are also allowed to shine. The film showcases primal fears such as the dark, clowns, puppets, creepy little girls and belt-wielding abusive fathers. There is even an abandoned fairground.

Dante brings each to life through suspenseful build-ups, unnerving sound-editing and genuinely shrink-back-in-your-seat reveals. The clown puppet is particularly terrifying – essentially a Gremlin in silly clothing – jumping on backs, smashing glass and shrieking manically. And the jerky stop-motion movement of the little girl is reminiscent of the ghosts in The Grudge. In short, Dante proves that 12A certificates can be just as scary as the Saw and Hostel torture-porn 18s.

After Dante, the second-biggest star is the 3-D itself. This is almost a master-class in how to use cinema’s latest gimmick. Dante wisely combines the crowd-pleasing 'it’s-going-to-hit-me-in-the-face' moments with more sophisticated scenes, where it is used to add depth to the locations. The Hole itself is gloriously realised in 3-D with the children staring into its depths from above or pouring in nails to test its limits. If only all directors were this disciplined with three dimensions.

In short, The Hole 3Dis entertainment for all ages – itself a near-impossible task – and will hopefully allow Dante to reclaim some of that former glory. Let’s hope the studios give him something franchise-worthy next time.


18th September 2010 at 7:55 pm