The Hole - Blu-ray Review

'an effective chiller for young and old audience members alike and the middle third in particular has several bona fide horror segments'

The Hole, minus it's cinematic subtitle of 'In 3D', sees Joe Dante, director of Gremlins, return to a genre that he claims has interested him throughout his career; that of the 'family-friendly' horror film. With a 12A rating in the UK and PG-13 certificate in the US it's clear that the content of Dante's thriller has largely passed the censor's acid test although the film remains an effective chiller for young and old audience members alike and the middle third in particular has several bona fide horror segments that are well directed by Dante who clearly knows how to effectively scare.

Having dismissed the 3D element of the film it's worth returning to it briefly if only in order to point out that this film like none before it shows the whimsical and slightly off-putting nature of the medium. Whilst scenes such as nails being poured into 'the hole' and baseball bats being pointed round corners might have seemed useful in a 3D cinema (or to anyone with an appropriate home setup), here they seem like pointless adages, included only to show off the fact that the film is in 3D rather than to serve any artistic or narrative purpose. It's not offensive but it is slightly distracting and these 'spot the 3D' moments do pad out scenes that could have been much tighter.

Much more distracting on occasion is the HD transfer which may beg the question 'how much HD is too much HD?'. The Hole's Blu-ray iteration is sharp of focus and high of contrast like very few transfers before it and the end result on occasion is that actors look more like actors than characters. What's meant by that is that in the harsh light of HD, every perfectly manicured finger-nail and beautifully teased strand of hair stands out and the effect is rather like looking at an ultra-photoshopped, moving, poster.

Despite this occasional distraction the actors themselves do a great job of bringing The Hole to life and as a lead trio Chris Massoglia, Haley Bennett and Nathan Gamble are likable enough to feel real fear for. Massoglia suffers through the fact that the pressure is on him to lead the film, something which both this and Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant have proven he is not ready for. As troubled teenager Dane though, Massoglia does show more promise and presence than we've seen from him before and the ability to take a film forwards on his own may only be a small number of years away.

Through his central trio Dante explores the theme of being afraid well and moves to an obvious conclusion centring around the willingness, ability and opportunity of any individual to face one's fears. If, as many critics argue, most horror is a representation of something else the director wants to talk about then making a horror film about a person's (or a family's) deepest, sometimes unspoken problems is a natural progression and the final reveal is well-handled, albeit necessarily in a less scary, more fantasy-orientated, setting. A decent chiller that brings new ideas to the table well whilst terrifying younger viewers and giving elder ones enough scares to justify a viewing.

The Hole is out in the UK on Blu-ray and DVD from Monday 17th January.

Look further...

'It's not quite Gremlins, but Dante shows that he still has a lot of juice left in him as a young-at-heart filmmaker' - I Love Movies But I Hate Yours, 7/10

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