Director Joe Dante was part of the group of directors from the 1980s that created some of the key films from my childhood. Gremlins, Explorers even Twilight Zone: The Movie. And though he is also known for his love of classic monster flicks and penchant toward Looney Tunes, he also created some interesting and unique family entertainment. When I heard his latest flick had been shelved for a couple years before release, I wondered what happened?
Dane (Chris Massoglia) and his little brother Lucas (Nathan Gamble) have moved to a small suburban town with their mom Susan (Teri Polo). Dane is pretty annoyed by the whole thing until he notices the very cute next-door neighbor Julie (Haley Bennett). After some awkward attempts to strike up a conversation (his little brother has no problems with it, much to Dane’s annoyance), the three start hanging out.
That’s when they discover the bizarre trap door in the basement. The kids open it and discover a literal abyss yawning before them. They attempt several experiments to see how deep the chasm delves and what could be inside. Julie reveals that the former owner, now known as Creepy Carl (Bruce Dern) went crazy in the house and moved out after several incidents. Very quickly all three kids learn just what kind of incidents these could be. Disturbing visions start haunting the three, including a ghostly girl, a horrific clown puppet and Dane’s abusive father who seems to be free from prison. And now that the door is open, there seems to be no way to close and keep whatever is inside The Hole from coming out.
- Balances laughs and scares fairly well
- The clown puppet is a horrifying creation
- All three kids feel authentic and help pull in the viewer
- Yes it’s a horror film, but don’t expect blood, boobs or anything in that vein
- Sometimes the creative moments don’t quite connect that way they were intended to
- The ghost girl feels a bit similar to the typical Japanese ghost girl we are overly familiar with
One thing about Joe Dante is that he always tries to bring something a bit different to his movies. This is no exception. PG-13 horror usually means a de-fanged slasher flick or Twilight rip off. Instead, Dante crafts a family friendly horror film. The humor comes form the character relationships (the banter and rough housing between the brothers, the awkward teen boy trying to talk to the teen girl, etc.) and some solid jump scares and creepy moments. Some of the resolutions don’t quite have the impact they are supposed to and I can’t put my finger on why they don’t work. But all in all it’s an entertaining film with likable characters and one creepy ass clown puppet. That thing gave me the shivers.
Scores (out of 5)
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