THE HOLE IN 3D  [3D Blu-ray + 2D Blu-ray] From the Director of GREMLINS and SMALL SOLDIERS! It Knows Your Deepest Fears!
From visionary director Joe Dante of ‘Gremlins’ and ‘Small Soldiers’ comes a family-friendly suspense thriller adventure that explores the fears and secrets buried deep in the human mind. After moving from Brooklyn to Bensonville into a new neighbourhood, 17 year old Dane [Chris Massoglia] and his 10 year old brother Lucas [Nathan Gamble], and their neighbour Julie [Haley Bennett] discover a sinister bottomless hole under a locked trap door in the basement of their home. They find that once the hole is exposed, an evil presence is unleashed. With strange shadows lurking around every corner and past nightmares coming to life, the trio will have to come face to face their darkest fears and to put an end to THE HOLE!
Cast: Chris Massoglia, Haley Bennett, Nathan Gamble, Teri Polo, Bruce Dern, Quinn Lord, John DeSantis, Douglas Chapman, Mark Pawson, Peter Shinkoda, Jonathan Bruce, Merritt Patterson, Ali Cobrin, Chelsea Ricketts, Chord Overstreet, Wade Williams (voice), Mary Mouser (voice), Michael Ark (uncredited), Dylan Garrett (uncredited), Billy Hendrickson (uncredited), Paul Hooson (uncredited), Jessica Just (uncredited), Dick Miller (uncredited) and Stephanie Wilcox (uncredited)
Director: Joe Dante
Producers: Chris Bender, Claudio Fäh, David Lancaster, Garrick Dion, Gary Michael Walters, J.C. Spink, Jon Silk, Jonathan Oakes, Michel Litvak, Neal Flaherty, Robert Skotak and Vicki Sotheran
Screenplay: Mark L. Smith
Composer: Javier Navarrete
Cinematography: Theo van de Sande
Video Resolution: 1080p
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 2.0 LPMC Stereo Audio
Subtitles: English SDH
Running Time: 88 minutes
Region: Region B/2
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Entertainment One
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: Welcome back, Joe Dante, you've been away far too long. Why did Hollywood turn its back on this guy? Joe Dante's made some of the funniest horror genre films ever, like the original ‘Piranha,’ ‘The Howling,’ ‘Gremlins,’ ‘Innerspace,’ ‘Matinee’ and ‘Small Soldiers.’ But for much of the past decade, Joe Dante has been making TV projects. Why? The big screen is his natural home, as the terrific ‘The Hole’ proves this once and for all. It is Joe Dante’s best feature since 1998 ‘Small Soldiers’ and his first since 2003 ‘Looney Tunes: Back In Action,’ is a teen exploit scary enough to thrill adult genre fans, but still safe enough for hardy young ones and a perfect “My First Horror” to inspire a new generation. Despite the 12A rating here in the UK, ‘The Hole’ in 3D is a horror that’s done its homework, paying dues to a host of classics such as ‘Ringu,’ ‘Child’s Play,’ ‘Poltergeist,’ ‘Gremlins,’ 'Puppet Master' and ‘The Gate.’
Just like Steven Spielberg and Stephen King, Joe Dante likes to set his horrors in suburbia. Dane Thompson [Chris Massoglia] and his young brother Lucas [Nathan Gamble] have just moved from Brooklyn into a new home, in a small town, with their mother Susan [Teri Polo]. The boys befriend neighbour Julie and soon come across a boarded-up, seemingly bottomless pit in their basement. Once open, all sorts of horrors are unleashed a dead girl, a killer clown ... horrors from the pit of the kids' greatest fears, so to speak.
With ‘The Hole,’ Joe Dante has created a fun family adventure that's also a terrifying experience for adults; like an unholy cross between ‘Honey, I Shrunk The Kids’ and ‘Poltergeist,’ all mixed together in some huge dark void. ‘The Hole’ in 3D feeds on Dane, Julie and Lucas' deepest fears, releasing horrible panda-eyed little shoeless girls and a rather disturbing jester puppet. I believe the medical term for a fear of clowns is Coulrophobia [Fear of Clowns], and if you're a sufferer, this really isn't the film for you.
After drawing on the regular Joe Dante staples of teen romance and disturbing family trauma, the films big finale, which brings to mind Dante's segment from the Twilight Zone film, does fail to deliver on the initial set-up. ‘The Hole’ in 3D may often work as a straight horror film, but it is aimed at kids so it was never going to be too traumatic. However, with its creepy realisation of basic horrors and disturbing visions, ‘The Hole’ in 3D will succeed in scaring the “bejeezus” out of all ages, young and old, and may just prove equally as effective to those of a really nervous disposition.
The concept of fears manifesting themselves from a seemingly endless and unexplained hole in their basement is worked nicely and kept me engaged for most of the film and when it reaches its dark and chilling climax, as Dane enters the Hole to face his greatest fear, the film excels with a very strong ending that has really excellent and amazing use of the 3D. It left me totally satisfied with Dante’s return to the big screen.
Another positive about ‘The Hole’ in 3D is the cast, they are all entirely likable. Not once did I feel annoyed by the young actors or think they were too childish or overplaying it, which is a real credit to how Joe Dante directs his youthful performers and something that normally lets down these family horror films when child actors are too annoying to give a damn and especially Chris Massoglia played the older brother Dane Thompson well and charms the hell out of the film and the young Nathan Gamble is proving to be a fine actor with another really strong performance that follows on from great parts in ‘The Dark Knight’ and another excellent horror film ‘The Mist.’ Haley Bennett added the feminine touch to the group and was the love interest as well as a main focal point for the story line with her own demons being revealed in the film’s most scary scenes, altogether they had good banter and chemistry which really assists to the films enjoy ability.
There are a few problems with the film, namely a pacing issue in the middle part and with what felt like rushed plot conclusions with some of the characters story arcs or plot points that could have benefited with more explanation and closure. An example is with the original owner of the house, a slightly neurotic man who the kids hunt down to try get some answers about the hole and he’s used minimally and ineffectively, which is a shame as it hinted at an interesting storyline. Also the film seemed to suffer under a tight budget, made tighter presumably by the use of 3D, and it feels rushed in places and some scenes felt incomplete but all credit must go to Joe Dante and his experience with small funds and delivering results regardless that he has made it work. There are wonderful perspective shots from within the hole looking up as our young stars attempt to see what’s in the holes depths by lowing things down and there are many moments of subtle depth which did not seem extraneous, which is just what I want from my 3D films. All in all a wholly satisfying family adventure with plenty of scares along the way.
Blu-ray Video Quality – ‘The Hole’ in 3D looks absolutely terrific on Blu-ray. Especially with a good 1080p encoded image and of course the 3D is totally awesome and at times will have you jumping out of your seat with sheer terror. The 1.85:1 presentation is clean and vivid and overall is brilliant. Being purposely shot 3D feature film, there is plenty of brilliant realistic elements, with careful framing in mind to make the best use of the extra depth associated with the format. Even the simplest shots, such as when the family are first moving in, with boxes and crates holding the extreme foreground and successive layers moving back into the frame giving a real sense of 3D space. The rest of the picture fairs just as well-being clean, bright and detailed. Skin and clothing weaves are suitably well defined as is the wood grain and strained steel of the hatch the seals the Hole, look too at the various objects that make up the basement, paint cans, shelving, even the dust, which are all pin sharp. Colours are bright and bold when we first meet the family without wash or bleed, but do ‘thin’ later in the film as the darkness of the film takes over, this is intentional and not a print defect. Brightness and contrast are set to give some terrific blacks, with the usual 3D caveat, which are at their best when looking into, or out of, the Hole which is completely impenetrable. Look too at the darkness spread in the basement, or the girl’s toilet when Julie is menaced for some terrific shadow detailing in the deep inkiness. Please Note: If people in North America wants to purchase this 3D Blu-ray, you will have to purchase a Multi-region Blu-ray Player, as it is ONLY available in the Region B/2 format.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix showcases some truly cool sound design, exploring the entire field for some potent directional effects. Well, just as the picture is absorbing and engaging, so too is the sound, which makes full use of the surround field to place some truly eerie effects. This is especially true when Lukas is first menaced by the clown puppet; its footsteps, bell-ringing and chitter-chatter are utilised by all the speakers moving around the room at such pace that you find yourself turning your head to see if that was part of the film or some demon in your own room. This is just one of many scenes that make use of the same eerie effects that really creep up on you. Dialogue is given frontal priority, though there is some directionality when called for, it also sounds very natural and distinct never once straining to be heard. The score is given decent stereo surround making use of all 5.1speakers to really place you in the centre of the room. Bass, itself, while strong in grounding everything in reality, is slightly lacking in the LF effects department, though when it does rear its head there are some very satisfying thumps; I’m thinking of the trap door over the Hole. On the whole this is a terrific sound track with plenty of effects to keep you guessing.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Special Features: Gateway to Hell: The Making of ‘The Hole’  [1080i] [11:39] A superficial and standard short feature that includes interviews with actors Teri Polo; Chris Massoglio; Nathan Gamble and Haley Bennett; director Joe Dante, producer David Lancaster, screenwriter Mark L. Smith and, briefly, Cinematographer Theo van de Sande and effects expert Robert Skotak. This special short feature is nothing but a blatant advert for the film, filled as it is with back slapping sound-bites and copious amounts of film clips it is just awful.
Special Feature: Interview with Cast and Crew  [1080i] Here we have two topical shorts supply clips, cast/crew comments, and some behind-the-scenes footage. "The Keeper of The Hole" [3:21] Takes a looks at Bruce Dern's role as Creepy Carl. "Family Matters" [4:29] considers the relationships within the Thompson family and with their neighbour. There is very little here, though, as it’s still tailored towards press interview material in promoting the film, only this time is looks raw and there is no interviewer, just the answered questions, sometimes the answers are professional, but most of the time it’s just pap.
Special Feature: Behind the ‘The Hole’ Scenes  [1080i] [11:39] A superficial and standard feature that includes interviews with actors Teri Polo, Chris Massoglio, Nathan Gamble and Haley Bennett; director Dante, producer Lancaster, writer Smith and, briefly, Cinematographer Theo van de Sande and effects expert Robert Skotak. This is basic camcorder footage of the cast and crew as they set up, rehearse, alleviate boredom and shoot the film? Sounds worthwhile, but is actually gets very tedious very quickly, much like it is being on a real film set, so on that level it works!
Finally, overall ‘The Hole’ in 3D is a very fine and enjoyable film but there isn’t much for the horror fan with its lack of gore or big frights but it does offer an original idea and a fun story that entertains. Joe Dante definitely knows how to make a family film that scares and excites and although it maybe a little too scary for really young kids it’s not going to leave you with nightmares unless your freaked out by evil little clowns. Joe Dante has no difficulty recreating the appealing feel of his best-known works, with ‘The Hole’ being another one of his signature unnerving yet fun family films. It is a shame that this fine effort is now reduced to anonymity in the States. It is well worth your time if you are in the mood for fun house-type horror resembling that of the 1980s, the kind that kids can watch without being traumatized but is also smart and fun enough to keep adults entertained. As a 3D Blu-ray disc from Entertainment One, they have put together a very simple package, the picture and sound are reference all the way, but it is let down by a rather naff extras package. But with the continuing lack of native 3D content on Blu-ray, this disc is still worth checking out. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado
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