Like a lot of kids my age, I loved The Goonies. As a kid, how can you not love a movie that gives people your age the opportunity to not only play hero, but to do so without the authorization or consent of adults. I’ve since gone on to discover other films from the 80s that had similar themes like The Lost Boys, Monster Squad, The Gate, The Pit and now, The Hole (even though it’s a much more recent film).
I’ve been seeing The Hole on Netflix for a while now, but just never got around to checking it out even with a pedigree that thanks to director Joe Dante who helmed Gremlins and Gremlins 2, two of my favorite movies. Well, last night I gave it a watch and not only loved the story, but also got pretty freaked out, something that rarely happens anymore.
The film follows brothers Dane and Lucas who have just moved to a small town with their mom. While horsing around in the basement, they discover a locked door in the floor that they open. After looking inside along with the cute neighbor girl, the three of them start getting haunted by supernatural representations of their deepest fears.
This movie is fantastic. I’m sure the few beers I had, lateness of the hour and general craziness of the week helped fuel my state of mind, but I haven’t been put into such a mood to be scared like this in a long time. It certainly helps that the film utilizes a scare device that I’m even more prone to reacting to now that I’m a parent: creepy kids. And boy, does Dante utilize them — or rather one — in this film to great effect. Speaking of which, I’m skipping the usual trailer because it gets into a lot more detail than I knew going in. If it sounds like the kind of thing you’d enjoy, just go watch it.
I will say that the film isn’t perfect. While I found the fear manifestations very effective, I will say that being scared of a dead kid, a clown and an abusive father aren’t exactly the most original avenues. Still, I thought they were put to good use in the film. Also, back to the creepy kid for a second, there’s a really odd special effect done to her in an effort to give her movements a crazy, disjointed quality kind of like Samara in The Ring. Unfortunately, it really lets you know that you’re watching a special effect instead of making you wonder how they did that which can pull you out of the movie if you’re not already deep into it like I was.
And I was super involved at this point. As much as I like the fear-based stuff, I also really enjoyed how these kids interacted with one another. Again, this feels like standard 80s stuff, but the older brother gives the younger one a hard time, but still clearly loves him. Then you bring in the cute neighbor girl who’s also smart and funny and brave and you’ve got a solid triumvirate to balance the film on. I really enjoyed all three leads — four if you count the mom who’s just trying to make things work for her family — especially Chris Massoglia who has a Millennial charm I couldn’t help but like.
Overall, I found this to be a well constructed story the harkens back to many of the films I loved as a kid as well as ones I’ve discovered as an adult that have similar themes: kids dealing with supernatural threats without much help from the outside world. I enjoyed how the went kind of crazy with it in the last 20 minutes or so — though all the splitting up had me mentally yelling at my TV (it was late and that wouldn’t fly) — and overall felt like I had the kind of movie-watching experience that I haven’t had in a long, long time. I’d really like to check this film out on Blu-ray because there were a few other visual problems, but I chalked them up to uneven streaming from Netflix.