Joe Dante's Hole starring Teri Polo, Chris Massoglia and Haley Bannett has every trick in the book to spook you, till an uninspiring climax partially ruins the impact. The film is about how the lives of 3 people change after they discover a hole in the basement of their new house.
Dane (Chris Massoglia) and Lucas (Nathan Gamble) move in to a new house along with their mother (Teri Polo). Dane falls for the girl next door Julie (Haley Bannett); however, before he can get introduced to her, he and his brother discover a hole in the basement of their house. The 3 teenagers find out that the hole is actually an abyss, and their curiosity about what is inside increases day after day.
Soon, the trio is haunted by a little girl with blood dripping from her eyes, a clown and a giant. They find out that these 3 leave the hole and crawl back into it as they please. The rest of the story is about how they find the mystery behind the hole and solve the issue.
The film is primarily about how people face their darkest fears. So we are told that once you stare into the hole, it somehow knows what you are afraid of the most, which comes to haunt you. We have Julie with a tragic past, Dane haunted by a giant, and Lucas fighting his fear of clowns.
While Hole has enough thrilling moments, it never goes full throttle in its attempt to scare the audience, and therein lies the problem. Joe Dante, who directed the film, does well in building the tension about the mystery behind the hole, and lets his characters be caught off-guard. But once the film shifts gear from a horror film to a fantasy, it looks cartoonish.
One reason why the movie doesn't entirely work is the way it unfolds in the third act. Unlike most other horror flicks, this film doesn't have a blood-fest or zombies lurking around. Plus, the way the problem of the hole is resolved leaves a lot to be desired.
Most of the movie is shot inside the house, and the screenplay is well-written to keep audiences on the edge of the seats. However, the 3D element hardly adds anything to the drama.
Chris Massoglia is good as a disturbed teenager Dane who doesn't take an instant liking to his new neighbourhood. Haley Bannett's characterization in the film has a strong resemblance to The Ring
, which was also about a little girl who dies under mysterious circumstances. Nathan Gamble stands out in the film despite being the youngest of the lot, and his portrayal of fear is noteworthy.
Theo van de Sande's cinematography is good, as is Javier Navarrate's music.
Hole has a clever concept, and some finely-crafted edge-of-the-seat moments. But is that enough for a horror film?