Friday, September 28, 2012

"The Hole" (2009)

Joe Dante, creator of such 80s gems as “Gremlins” and “Innerspace,” has finally had his latest film released in the States. It has been available elsewhere for some years, and it is a passable entertainment; especially if you save it for at home viewing and not, not in 3D at a high per-ticket price.

It is similar to “Gremlins” in that it is horror, but not too gory or offensive so it could be acceptable for younger teens who want scares. It is unlike “Gremlins” in that it is not in any way original or iconic.

Basically, two brothers move into a new house with a bottomless pit in their basement. When they open the pit, they also open the door to the things that most scare them. They seem to come right out of the darkness and into their lives. That opens the door for the filmmakers to explore such creepy things as ghostly children, clown dolls, and… child abuse?

The biggest problem with this film is that it really exposes the “first world” nature of horror entertainment these days. In this case (and here come spoilers, so be warned) the horror can only affect you if you are scared of it. Once our characters realize the scary things have no real power over them they cease to fear them and the scary things simply fade away. It is the classic “all we have to fear is fear itself” idea. The only problem with that line of logic is that it is not really true.

Most people fear bodily harm or death. While it may be true that many worry about such things too much, or have such an extreme fear that their lives are negatively impacted, the fact is that you can actually suffer bodily harm. You will die eventually. Outside of the first world, people struggle with real danger and hardship every day. For them the thrill aspect of horror is not a diversion.

Horror can be a vehicle for stories that teach valuable lessons. Here it tries to be clever but just comes across as naïve.

At least it isn’t the other extreme of “first world” horror where people with no idea of suffering and danger get a thrill out of seeing people tortured to death in the most gruesome manners possible. That is a whole other level of naiveté.

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