Sundance 2021: John And The Hole

Imagine waking up in the bottom of a hole – you, your spouse, your kid. You’ve been drugged, and now you’re being held hostage. There’s no way out. Worse, your son is missing. What happened to him? Is he hurt? Worse? Who’s doing this, and why?

Imagine waking up in the bottom of a hole and realizing it was your teenage son who put you there.

Imagine finding a hole and thinking: I should put my family in there.

John (Charlie Shotwell) is the kid who found a hole, drugged his family, dragged their bodies out to the hole and tossed them in. And then he walked away.

It’s like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off for kids who make their own luck. With the run of the house, John gets to play video games, drink juice from the container, and keep up with his piano practice. It’s actually a lot like his old life, which was pretty privileged, but with more driving, and more cash, though he has little need for either. Sean called it a staycation and indeed John does seem to be adapting well to his new circumstances.

Meanwhile, in the hole, mom Anna (Jennifer Ehle), dad Brad (Michael C. Hall), and sister Laurie (Taissa Farmiga) are having a much less fun time. Hungry, dirty, cold, and weary, they’re coming to terms with the act that not only is it their very own John doing this to them, he may very well intend for them to die.

Before we’d seen the end of the film, we discussed a hypothetical – say the family eventually escapes the hole. What then? Do they call the cops on their son? Have him arrested? They’d already been held against their will for days at this point, but the parent-child attachment can be incredibly strong. What would you do?

John himself is starting to wonder what his endgame is and to be honest, I’m wondering whether the writer even knows. Director Pascual Sisto’s style is sleek and carefully calibrated, but the film is just too shrouded in ambiguity to have a lasting impact. The premise had so much potential, much like its pro(?)tagonist John, a young man figuring out who he is in the world, eager to try on adulthood like a jacket but not quite sure what to do with it once it’s on.

Imagine making a movie about a boy who puts his family in a hole, only to realize you don’t have much to say about it.

8 thoughts on “Sundance 2021: John And The Hole

  1. Pingback: Sundance 2021: John And The Hole –

  2. Jimmie

    Maybe you are the one with nothing to say… this review is terrible! lol no wonder this website is called assholes watching movies haha I got a lot of of this film, but I guess depth is in the eye of the beholder.



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