Susan and her sons Dane and Lucas Thompson move from Brooklyn to Bensonville, in the countryside. Dane is upset with the constant changes of address and the family has lived in many cities. Lucas and Dane befriend their next door neighbor, the gorgeous Julie and the brothers find a bottomless hole in the basement of their house locked with several padlocks. They take the locks off and soon they are haunted by their darkest fears. Further, they believe that the hole might be a gateway to hell. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The great thing about Dante's latest feature (his first in 7 years) is that it's so disarming. The look, feel and tone all tells you this a family-friendly kids flick, in the same vane as The Goonies and Explorers. In fact, I first heard this movie pitched as a gentle introduction to horror for tweens. This film, however, is definitely not suitable for a 12 year old.
Dante is renowned for having his tongue lodged firmly in his cheek, his movies very much anarchic in tone and content (Gremlins being a perfect example). The Hole is much more tempered than this, and the first two thirds are a genuine masterclass in ratcheting up fear and tension. Sure, there are plenty of jump shocks, but Dante cleverly places his camera close to the characters, leaving most of the background hidden so you never see what's coming.
The lead characters are all very good, and the initial scenes with Dane and the girl-next-door feel realistically stilted (as you would if you were a teenager and you just met the cute babe next door). Dante doesn't hang about, and quickly gets to the hole. This in turn immediately opens up all manner of scares, with some dark and genuinely frightening scenes, extremely well executed.
Dante borrows heavily from the likes of The Grudge, Poltergeist and The Sixth Sense, as well as affectionate nods to his own films (Gremlins, Small Soldiers and even It's A Good Life, a segment he directed for Twilight Zone The Movie). However, none of it feels ripped-off. It has its own inimitable style and is expertly put together, complementing the story.
For me, the final act was a little wacky but the overall movie is a satisfying experience. Considering its influences and the fact that Dante has been in the game for over 30 years, this is a surprisingly fresh addition to the genre.
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