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Hole, The (3D)


Stars: Chris Massoglia, Nathan Gamble, Haley Bennett, Bruce Dern, Teri Polo

Director: Joe Dante

Billed as a horror story for younger audiences, this is certainly too scary for primary school children or indeed any child of nervous disposition.

Brothers Dane (Massoglia) and Lucas (Gamble) move into yet another new home with their mother (Polo), who is fearful of reprisals from her violent ex-husband, not languishing in jail but seemingly determined to keep track of the family.

It isn't long before the boys, joined by girl next door Julie (Bennett) discover a heavily padlocked trapdoor in the basement. Finding the keys, the boys prise open the flap, to reveal a seemingly bottomless hole. Things lowered into the pit are snapped off by something deep down below! Which does make it surprising that the camera they send down on a rope should emerge unscathed.

Watching its images on their TV screen, they are interrupted by the return of Mom from work and fail to notice the eye appearing on the screen behind them - something the subsequent plot unfortunately never explains.

Spooky enough for most of its runtime to scare adults, let alone kids, the movie gets too silly in its latter stages, even if the stylised settings down in the hole remain imaginative and at times almost Caligari-like.

The film's impact, however, is further weakened by the inadequacy of its leading actor, Massoglia being even worse here than he was in Cirque du Freak (and listen closely for the uncorrected slip in which he calls his screen brother Nathan instead of Lucas in a key scene).

Still, Dante regular Bruce Dern is as wonderfully eccentric as ever as Creepy Carl, who lives at a disused factory called Gloves of Orlac, while the now-grizzled features of another Dante favourite, Dick Miller, crop up briefly as a somewhat elderly pizza delivery man.

David Quinlan

USA 2009. UK Distributor: e1 Films. Colour by FotoKem.
92 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 18 Sep 2010