Sundance Film Festival: ‘John And The Hole’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

John and the Hole directed by Pascual Sisto and written by Nicolás Giacobone is a dark, psychological thriller that doesn’t quite find its footing. The film begins with a young thirteen-year-old boy named John (Charlie Shotwell) who is completely emotionless. We see that there is tension with his parents and his sister because no one seems to even care about him. He feels alone and he does not want to deal with the pressure they put on him. John doesn’t want to think about what his parents want him to do. He wants to just live his life without any responsibility.

Here’s what makes it interesting. After John drugs his family and places them in the hole (almost as if it were punishment), John takes on even more responsibility. He is living all by himself in this big, empty house and he is the one who has to take care of everything. He has to cook for himself, make his appointments with his tennis instructor and clean the house. In a short period of time, he understands what it’s like to be an adult and we all know that it comes with a whole other set of responsibilities. What Giacobone wanted to do was show – in a very twisted way- the pressures of growing up.

Even when we are grown, we never fully accept the fact that we have a new set of responsibilities. It’s the same cycle, when we are teenagers we want to be adults, so we act older than we should. Then when we hit our twenties, we regret growing up so fast. John’s idea of freedom is compromised once he realizes that life is even more repetitive and quite boring. This is when the depression hits him. He’s alone in the house, even inviting a friend over doesn’t help him. He thinks even if his family treated him poorly, it’s still better to be with them than to be alone.

John and the Hole is a psychological family drama that has John living his best life, until he realizes that there’s a whole different manual that comes with it. It’s a good lesson in wanting to grow up too fast but the story gets lost in the style of the film. The focus was more on the camerawork and sound design (which was awesome) instead of structuring this story. It had good ideas but the execution was a bit weak. Charlie Shotwell gave a great performance and he kept me interested until the end.

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