Joe Dante Digs Deep to Rekindle a 80s adventure

Deadly Movies DVD Reviews | The Hole on Blu-Ray and DVD 17th January

Available 17th January

The 80s is a hot decade for producers to pillage. The past ten years have seen 80s horror movies remade to death, 80s TV shows have been dusted down and given feature length treatment, and 80s action he-men have had a big screen renaissance. Surprisingly then, that most endearing sanctum of 80s childhood memories, suburban kids have a wacky adventure, has been all but untouched. Movies like ET, The Goonies, Gremlins, Back to the Future, Stand By Me, Explorers, and The Never Ending Story (go on you know you can list a lot more) have been untouched by the evil remake claw (although the remake whores at Platinum Dunes have acquired the rights to Monster Squad). Which leads us nicely to The Hole, not a remake, but a film very much with 80s sensibilities, and helmed by non other than Joe Dante, the man who gave us Gremlins.

Here we get all traits and fingerprints that made those movies so enjoyable, and for most of us, relatable to our greatest childhood fantasies: Middle class suburban kids come across something extraordinary that leads to adventures where they, not the adults or parents, are the heros, and the adults are often the villains. It’s not that the 90s or 00s haven’t offered such movies, but where Dante really taps into the success of those 80s classics is to reintroduce kids to horror. That’s right horror. Remember that wolf in The Never Ending Story? ET going all white and corpsey? or Spike’s face melting off in Gremlins? It was the mixture of adventure, suspence, and, all-be-it mild,  horror that made those films so memorable for kids. In The Hole Dante treats his audience with a respect that has been lost of late, a knowledge that kids can not only take a little scare here and there, but actually enjoy it!

The Hole then is a simple premise, two brothers, Dane and Lucas, and the love interest neighbor Julie, find a seemingly bottomless hole underneath their, yes suburban, home. That’s the kind of simplicity kids love. What’s down there? Where does it go? Are there monsters down there? Of course like any kids, they are going to find out. The temptation for most other kids movies at this time would be to transport the kids to somesort of Narnia, probably New Zealand shot, fantasy world. Dante however, high on 80s space candy, keeps us at home, and gives us creepy figures, demonic shadows, and possessed dolls. In short the hole is evil. Along the way, help and advice is imparted by 70s and 80s icon Bruce Dern which is another nice touch. When we finally arrive inside the whole we’re treated to a twisted world of German Expressionism rather than dwarfs and fairies. It does fall apart slightly during Dane’s final confrontation with the true evil that lurks down there, but that doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the ride. Ultimately this is a welcome return to form for Dante who remembers to keep things simple, hire strong young actors (all three are fantastic), and that kids actually like being scared.

The DVD and Blu-Ray transfers look fantastic, although of course the theatrically 3D effects are lost in 2D translation leaving some effect shots looking a little odd. An unavoidable curse of the 3D movie to 2D DVD release. The extras consist of one making of featurette ‘Making of The Hole‘, Interviews with Cast & Crew, and a Behind the Scenes feature.

The Hole is released on Blu-Ray and DVD on January 17th 2011

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