Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Hole Wasn't Deep But Wasn't Bad

One well-explored subgenre of horror might be called the Home Alone Horror (not that Home Alone is an example).  In such a film, the action centers on characters in their teens or younger (and usually with a mix of teen and pre-teen characters) with adults strictly out of the loop.  The Gate (1987) and Spielberg’s Super 8 (2011) are typical examples and are typically disappointing. 
This weekend I watched The Hole (2009).  There wasn’t a fresh idea anywhere in it; still, it wasn’t half bad.  Mom and her two sons move into a new house in a new town.  The teenager Dane (Chris Massoglia) is obviously unhappy and insecure.  He takes it out on his younger brother Lucas (Nathan Gamble).  One bright spot in Dane’s dark mood is Julie (Haley Bennett), the girl next door. 
The two brothers discover a wooden door in the basement floor with dozens of padlocks securing it.  Below it is a dark, apparently bottomless pit.  Once the “darkness sees you” you are in big trouble. 
At the risk of a small spoiler, this is basically a “defeat your fears by confronting them” plot.  Like most Home Alone Horrors, focusing on kids has the result that the movie is mostly fit for kids.  I have to say, however, that I did enjoy this one.  If the story telling was unimaginative, the strength of the actors and the dialogue were enough to carry it.  We also get a delicious bit part by Bruce Dern as Creepy Carl. 
I like the idea of the hole in the basement.  If you want something wholesome and fun, this movie will fit the bill.  It is pretty safe for children.  I do long for something more serious in the genre, something more like the bits in Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot (the novel, not the movie) that focused on the boy.  Horror movies with kids could stand to be a bit more grownup. 

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