The disc presents a widescreen 1.85:1 1080p 2D and 3D transfer that is Region locked to B.
Being a natively shot 3D feature there is plenty of realistic elements with careful framing in mind to make the best use of the extra depth associated with the format. Even the simplest shots, such as when the family are first moving in, with boxes and crates holding the extreme foreground and successive layers moving back into the frame giving a real sense of 3D space. Likewise each successive layer has its own solidity, looking again at the moving scene, the boxes look solid enough to pick up yourself! There are tangible distances between the actors in two shots and, it seems, there is never an opportunity lost to not give some kind of depth to frame. Notable shots, for me, were the simplest, such as Julie swimming underwater, where the surface of the pool provides a terrific holding point so she is ‘deep’ in the water. As this was a relatively new film to the format there were also scenes dedicated to ‘gimmicky, in your face’ shots, though even these are quite tastefully done. Obvious shots, such as Lukas laying on his bed with the camera looking down on him as he throws a baseball into (i.e. out of) the frame were slightly groan inducing, but shots from inside the Hole looking out are excellently realised when the three dangle the various objects (especially the camera with its light) into (again out of) the frame. Once we are inside the Hole with its expressionist landscape, the 3D once again opens up the frame with some excellent distance into the frame, and when it all breaks apart there is some terrific looking falling debris. Gimmicks aside the 3D elements are for the most part extremely natural and add the extra dimension in such a way as you become accustomed to the picture without being brought out of the film.
The rest of the picture fairs just as well being clean, bright and detailed. Skin and clothing weaves are suitably well defined as is the wood grain and strained steel of the hatch the seals the Hole, look too at the various objects that make up the basement, paint cans, shelving, even the dust, which are all pin sharp. Colours are bright and bold when we first meet the family without wash or bleed, but do ‘thin’ later in the film as the darkness of the film takes over, this is intentional and not a print defect.
Brightness and contrast are set to give some terrific blacks (with the usual 3D caveat) which are at their best when looking into, or out of, the Hole which is completely impenetrable. Look too at the darkness spread in the basement, or the girl’s toilet when Julie is menaced for some terrific shadow detailing in the deep inkiness.
Digitally I spotted no compression artefacts, nor was there any edge enhancement, and colour was free from any banding or posterization issues. My passive technology viewing made sure there was no crosstalk, save the baseball that Lukas was throwing out of the screen, making for a very pleasant 3D experience, though the same technology did throw up the occasional aliasing line, but it was extremely rare.
On the whole this was a very worthwhile 3D experience and worthy of a reference score.
I concentrate on the dts-HD Master Audio 5.1 track for this description. Well, just as the picture is absorbing and engaging, so too is the sound, which makes full use of the surround field to place some truly eerie effects. This is especially true when Lukas is first menaced by the clown puppet; its footsteps, bell-ringing and chitter-chatter are utilised by all the speakers moving around the room at such pace that you find yourself turning your head to see if that was part of the film or some demon in your own room. This is just one of many scenes that make use of the same eerie effects that really creep up on you. Dialogue is given frontal priority, though there is some directionality when called for, it also sounds very natural and distinct never once straining to be heard. The score is given decent stereo surround making use of all 5.1speakers to really place you in the centre of the room. Bass, itself, while strong in grounding everything in reality, is slightly lacking in the LF effects department, though when it does rear its head there are some very satisfying thumps; I’m thinking of the trap door over the Hole. On the whole this is a terrific sound track with plenty of effects to keep you guessing.
- Making of The Hole (11.39, SD) – is a short feature that is nothing but a blatant advert for the film, filled as it is with back slapping sound-bites and copious amounts of film clips – just awful.
- Interview with Cast and Crew (14.40, SD) – of slightly more interest is this ‘unedited’ section of interviews from the same cast and crew featured above. There is very little here, though, as it’s still tailored towards press interview material in promoting the film, only this time is looks raw – there is no interviewer, just the answered questions, sometimes the answers are professional, but most of the time it’s just pap.
- Behind the Scenes (12.03, SD) – is basic camcorder footage of the cast and crew as they set up, rehearse, alleviate boredom and shoot the film. Sounds worthwhile but is actually very tedious very quickly, much like it is being on a real film set, so on that level it works!
After years in TV Hell, Joe Dante returns to terrific form with another family horror, The Hole. It tells the story of a mysterious Hole in the basement of a newly moved in family, that once opened releases your worst fear and haunts your every waking moment. The mostly young cast acquit themselves reasonably well and veteran actor Bruce Dern puts in a terrific cameo. Unfortunately whilst the idea and execution are expertly realised, being as it wears is Asian Horror inspiration firmly on it’s sleeve, the film itself relies on way too many tried and tested clichés, so much so that there is always the nagging doubt that you’ve seen it all before, and once the premise is revealed much of the built up tension simply (sadly) evaporates.
As a 3D Blu-ray set Entertainment One have put together very simple package, the picture and sound are reference all the way, but it is let down by a rather naff extras package. But with the continuing lack of native 3D content on Blu-ray, this disc is still worth checking out.
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