Horrortoberfest 2014: Day 20 – The Hole (2009)

hole poster

Ending the spooky house week with a movie by an actual, honest-to-god director instead of the amateur hour shenanigans I’ve been dealing with. The Hole is directed by Joe Dante, the same guy that gave us Gremlins, and it has that very distinct Joe Dante feel to it. He does a good job of making movies that can appeal to both adults and kids with scares that are genuinely creepy without having to go over-the-top with gore or anything like that. Also, in case anyone still hasn’t realized it yet, this movie is not The Gate, no matter how similar the plots may seem.

So the movie follows two brothers, a teen and a younger kid, that are moving from the big city into a small town where they befriend the girl next door. They end up finding a door to a hole in their basement that is locked six times over and so, of course, their first inclination is to open that sumbitch up and find out what’s in there. The Netflix description would have you believe that it is a portal to hell, which is also something postulated by the kids themselves. I think that ends up being more of a nod to The Gate than an actual indicator of what the hole actually is. Anyway, after opening up the hole, they begin to be haunted by fearsome apparitions.

I love that the movie does such a good job of having everything come from a kid’s perspective. Adults either not present or only there to tell you what to do. Problems you encounter need to be shared only with other kids and solved yourself. See a creepy little ghost girl crawl into the hole in your basement? Don’t tell your mom or anything. This calls for a sleepover where we put on sports equipment and wield trash can lids as shields. It also deals with the issues of childhood fears, both rational and irrational, including dealing with issues of an abusive parent and the death of a friend. It deals with most of these with a fairly light touch but still, there are some deep subjects that get dealt with.

The main theme in the movie is confronting your fears and overcoming them. Unfortunately, this ends up making several of the scarier things end up becoming kind of ridiculous and I understand that that is kind of the point but it still makes some scenes seem a little too goofy. Like the little brother confronts a creepy clown doll that’s been following him around but it ends up degenerating into this slapstick fight that’s more funny than frightening. Again, I know that this is mostly in purpose but it drags what could have been a some really good scenes out just a touch too long. Honestly, if this is my biggest complaint then there isn’t really much of a problem there.

Overall, I give the hole a 4.5 out of 5 with the caveat that it is definitely a PG-13 and not even close to an R. Great for what it is, a family friendly horror film. It knows what it wants to be and excels at it.

Favorite thing in the movie: The various clues that get seeded about the boys’ father before it ends up being explicitly stated.

Least favorite thing: The older brother makes a reference to “Aunt Bee”. What 14/15 year old even knows what the hell The Andy Griffith Show even is?

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