14 year old Dan and his 10 year old brother Lucas weren't too happy being uprooted from New York City by their single mother, Susan. They've just moved into the small town of Bensonville and the only thing keeping Dane somewhat sane is the attractive next door neighbor, Julie. Things take a turn for the worse when Dane and Lucas discover a sinister black hole under a locked trap door in their basement which threatens to change their world dramatically. Joe Dante's The Hole is a film very much in the same vein as Gremlins or Goonies, being a kid-centric horror story that is both frightening and charming. The first thing that really jumped out to me about The Hole is just how well written the two brothers are. The sibling dynamics between them feel completely genuine, balancing the right blend of adolescent horseplay and bonding. With The Hole, Dante has crafted a film that really captures the adventurous nature of children, as much of the running time revolves around Dan and Lucas exploring the strange happenings. What they discover is that the Hole focuses on their greatest fears and nightmares which leads to a fun, borderline subversive climax. Thematically the film wears its message on its sleeve by the end of the film but I wouldn't expect much else from a film in the teenage horror genre. If I had one major complaint about The Hole it would revolve around the film's rather timid nature in attempting to inflict fear in its audience. Don't get me wrong, I totally understand this is Dante's realm to a degree, but I think he could have pushed the envelope a little more in the horror department.
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