If you’ve been tuning into Amazon’s Josh Brolin Western Outer Range, you know about the plot hole: the literal giant hole at the centre of the series’ supernatural mystery. The sci-fi and horror genre has great love for giant holes and bottomless pits as plot devices, and we have some favourites. Read on, but don’t fall in!
The Hole in the Ground (2019)
The title really warns you what you’re in for, doesn’t it? In this Irish horror film, a newly single mum and her young son try to make a new life in the country, only to discover the woods behind their home contains a gigantic sinkhole. Sinkholes are menacing no matter what, but this specific variety happens to harbour child-snatching beasties.
Daredevil season 2 (2016)
Charlie Cox’s Daredevil character is back from Marvel Netflix exile in a big way, and we’re glad for him. (He’s a really good lawyer!) But who could forget that multi-story hole that popped up in Daredevil season two? The writers of Daredevil, perhaps, who failed to really explain its purpose? Passing references involving — dragon bones, was it? — on The Defenders brought some closure to the saga, but it never really lived up to its, uh, whole hole potential.
The Pit (1981)
In which a misfit tween with a talking teddy bear discovers a hole full of fiendishly hungry, decidedly carnivorous beasties he calls “trogs.” Does he use the creatures to help him get revenge against his enemies? Yes! Does his plan eventually backfire? Yes! Is The Pit a certified cult classic? Do you have to ask?
The Simpsons, “Treehouse of Horror III”
When Homer realises Bart’s Krusty the Klown doll just might be kursed, he does the sensible thing and tosses it into Springfield’s local bottomless pit. (The doll is so evil, of course, it swiftly returns to dole out more torment.)
The Descent (2005)
Fond of blending their reunion vacations with extreme sports, a group of friends (and frenemies) gather to explore an especially challenging cave — not realising that the daredevil among them has guided them to a location so remote it’s actually off the map, known only to the mutant monsters that lurk within its dripping caverns and claustrophobic tunnels.
The Gate (1987)
Sometimes the hole in your backyard is full of demonic critters (see: The Pit). Sometimes the hole in your backyard is full of demonic critters and also serves as a gateway to an intensely evil dimension. Fortunately the pint-sized heroes in The Gate are there to stand in its way, unlike that creepy, conspiratorial kid from The Pit.
The Golden Child (1986)
After learning he’s the Chosen One to rescue an even more important Chosen One, a social worker (Eddie Murphy) travels to Tibet intent on retrieving a magical dagger he’ll need for the mission. Of course, to get ahold of that dagger, he has to prove his heart is pure by traversing a treacherous, Goonies-ish path across a bottomless pit — “There’s no floor!” he shrieks after a flipped coin never hits bottom, along with a litany of other PG-rated exclamations — all while carrying a glass of water without spilling a drop.
The Borderlands (2013)
This found-footage horror movie follows a trio sent by the Vatican to investigate a maybe-miracle in a crumbling old English church. Turns out said church is built on top of an ancient human-sacrifice site, over a cave that’s actually a gigantic pagan god’s digestive tract. The “gaping hole” in this instance is actually more of a Sarlacc pit situation; not for nothing, the movie’s alternate title is Final Prayer. Burrrrp.
The Mole People (1956)
Hollow Earth tale number one: archaeologists discover a race of mushroom-gobbling, Ishtar-worshiping, excessively pale mutants dwelling deep underground. Mystery Science Theatre 3000 got its mitts on this one, as you can see from the above image, so you can imagine the quality of filmmaking here. However, the hole is confirmed to be so deep the intrepid explorers exclaim “I can’t see the bottom!”… immediately followed by “We gotta get down!”
Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1959, 2008)
Hollow Earth tale number two: explorers (played by James Mason and Brendan Fraser in the different versions) and their pals do exactly what the title says and discover that the planet’s core is a fantastical place (one decidedly more CG-embellished than the other), rather than the molten zone science class always insisted it to be. The 1959 version sees the group arrive via a whirlpool, while Fraser’s party does actually punch through via an absolute honker of a hole.
Sometimes, like when Joe Dante (Gremlins) is calling the shots for example, one’s new home comes with an unexpected architectural feature: a bottomless pit in the basement! But is it truly bottomless if it also magically brings your worst fears to life?
Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey
This one’s kind of a bonus because the hole isn’t exactly in the Earth. It’s more of a metaphysical hole between purgatory and Hell, activated thanks to Missy’s — I mean Mum’s — ill-advised séance that contacts Bill and Ted after they’re offed by their robot doubles. And though they do eventually reach their fiery destination, the fall takes a hysterically long time.