So, instead of the presidential debate, I watched The Hole last night. (I think I got the better deal.) For those who haven’t heard about it (possibly from me) already, The Hole is
a bunch of bad title-related jokes waiting to happen the first feature-length film from Joe Dante since 2003’s Looney Tunes: Back in Action. (I had to double-check that, because it seems like couldn’t possibly have been that long, but yep.) The Hole has also been sitting on a shelf for the past three years, waiting for release, before finally being dumped somewhat unceremoniously onto VOD, DVD, and a handful of theatres in California and New York. (This seems to be a pattern with movies that I really want to see of late.)
I watched mine on DVD, and my only complaint is that I didn’t get a chance to see it in 3D. Not that the movie ever even once made me think, “Man, I am missing out by not seeing this in 3D!” but Dante’s statements in this article make it seem like he might’ve put some thought into it that could actually have turned out something interesting. Alas, I’ll probably never know.
The movie itself is fine. Certainly a better return-to-form-after-a-long-hiatus than, say, John Carpenter’s disappointing The Ward. For all that it’s a horror movie, it’s much more kid-friendly than a lot of Dante’s older, ostensibly kid-friendly fare. (Even Small Soldiers occasionally felt harder-edged, at least in my memory.) But as big-budget (comparatively) versions of Goosebumps go, it’s a pretty good one, and I commend it for wasting absolutely no time dicking around. It knows that we all know how this sort of thing goes, and so it coasts on that to get us into the story immediately. (The titular hole and its weird properties are introduced within fifteen minutes.)
There are a lot of Joe Dante staples, and the ending sequence is like a cross between The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and a Chuck Jones cartoon (a style that Dante has dabbled in before, especially in his great “It’s a Good Life” segment of the Twilight Zone movie). This isn’t top-shelf Dante, but it’s still better than average. And we could use more big-budget Goosebumps-alikes in this sad world. My only real disappointment (minor spoiler here, so look away if you’re really concerned) was that in the obligatory “the end… or is it?!” bit, we didn’t get to see a giant rubber monster hand coming up out of the hole. That would have clinched the deal for me.