Joe Dante has oozed quality family/horror productions for 30 years with the likes of Gremlins, The Explorers, Inner Space, Piranha, The Burbs, Small soldiers and the excellent TV series Eerie Indiana on his wonderful CV.

After a seven year gap since his last film (The horrible Looney Tunes: Back in Action) has Dante returned to form? Read on to find out.

The story of The Hole is about brothers Dane and Lucas Thompson (Chris Massoglia and Nathan Gamble) who have just moved house again in a long line of moves. Along with next door neighbour Julie (Haley Bennett) they discover a heavily locked hatched in their basement which they open to reveal a seemingly harmless yet strangely bottomless hole. The hole however contains something that haunts each of them and brings their own personal fears to life.

The Hole is a very refreshing film from Dante, using all his experience to create a decent and enjoyable film that delves into the fears and secrets of our heroes using some interesting ideas that provide jumps, scares, young creepy dead kids with tears of blood and evil little clowns.

The concept of fears manifesting themselves from a seemingly endless and unexplained hole in their basement is worked nicely and kept me engaged for most of the film and when it reaches its dark and chilling climax, as Dane enters the Hole to face his greatest fear, the film excels with a very strong ending that has really excellent use of 3D. It left me totally satisfied with Dante’s return to the big screen.

Another positive about The Hole is the cast, they are all entirely likable. Not once did I feel annoyed by the young actors or think they were too childish or overplaying it, which is a real credit to how Dante directs his youthful performers and something that normally lets down these family horror films when kids are too annoying to give a damn about.

Chris Massoglia played the older brother Dane Thompson well and charms the hell out of the film and the young Nathan Gamble is proving to be a fine actor with another really strong performance that follows on from great parts in The Dark Knight and another excellent horror film The Mist.

Haley Bennett added the feminine touch to the group and was the love interest as well as a main focal point for the story line with her own demons being revealed in the films most scary scenes, altogether they had good banter and chemistry which really assists to the film’s enjoyability.

There are a few problems with the film, namely a pacing issue in the middle part and with what felt like rushed plot conclusions with some of the characters story arcs or plot points that could have benefited with more explanation and closure. An example is with the original owner of the house, a slightly neurotic man who the kids hunt down to try get some answers about the hole and he’s used minimally and ineffectively which is a shame as it hinted at an interesting storyline.

Also the film seemed to suffer under a tight budget, made tighter presumably by the use of 3D, and it feels rushed in places and some scenes felt incomplete but all credit must go to Dante and his experience with small funds and delivering results regardless that he has made it work.

It was worrying to have the title called “In 3D” as it lead me too believe it was an after thought post production addition to get a few more bums on seats and not just that there was 2001 film with the same name so they added it in to distinguish the two films. The 3D in fact was excellently used, it’s some of the most well utilised 3D I’ve seen this year.

There are wonderful perspective shots from within the hole looking up as our young stars attempt to see whats in the holes depths by lowing things down and there are many moments of subtle depth which did not seem extraneous, which is just what I want from my 3D films.

Overall The Hole is a fine film but there isn’t much for the horror fan with its lack of gore or big frights but it does offer an original idea and a fun story that entertains. Joe Dante definitely knows how to make a family film that scares and excites and although it maybe a little to scary for really young kids it’s not going to leave you with nightmares unless your freaked out by evil little clowns.

The Hole in 3D is out Wednesday 22nd September.