John and The Hole Review – Resonating, Strong Story Driven Performances

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John and The Hole, from IFC Films, presents an eccentric story of heightened adolescent angst, as a young man attempts to navigate his own passage, own his own terms, to adulthood and all its responsibility.

The film begins with the mild lifestyle of a typical upscale suburban family, parents, Brad, played by Michael C. Hall, his wife, Laura, played by Jennifer Ehle, and children, John, played by Charlie Shotwell and Anna, played by Taissa Farmiga.


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As the film moves through a typical day, we understand the parents have provided well for their children. They have a comfortable upper-middle class lifestyle, private school, extra-curriculars, well-taught, with John accomplished at both tennis and piano, all the latest tech gadgets, and it appears the family has a quiet, dependable, peaceful, existence.

An avid skateboarder, John takes a fall and rummages through his mom's medicine cabinet for something that will take the pain away. We see he, whatever, he takes is effective and he is nodding off during dinner. He becomes so enamored with the drug's effects that he begins to experiment on others.

First, he treats the gardener with a fresh glass of spike lemonade and watches from the window as it slowly causes him to pass out in the yard. Once he has determined the potency needed, he spikes his parents and sister's drink.


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When they wake, they are all lying on the floor in an unfinished bunker on the neighbor's property. Unaware they were drugged by their son, the parents believe they are victims of a home invasion and John, the only member of the family not subject to the torture of the bunker is now being victimized is the home by unknown assailants.

Then, John, who had discovered the unfinished bunker while exploring the neighboring woods, appears and throws down food. He looks at them and walks away. He has decided to live a kid's version of an adult life, and over the course of the next two weeks, eats poorly, overloads on sweets, plays video tennis, cancels the Gardener, lies to his dad's employer, drives the car, and withdraws money from his parents back account.

His parents and sister are now having soulful interactions, as the serene existence which masked for normalcy is pulled off and while they don't breakdown, they are broken. John repeatedly comes out to the bunker to check on them, he tosses clothes, blankets, and food.


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A neighbor, expecting to meet up his mother comes by to check on her. The first visit, he effectively keeps her in the driveway with skillful lies. The second visit she sees immediately the signs of problems, the house is a mess with a trail of cereal from the kitchen to the living room, and John's behavior becomes even more bizarre.

After about two or three weeks, he is unable to handle the single life and makes his family a delicious meal. The next morning, he drops the ladder into the bunker.

John and The Hole is an eccentric examination of adolescent angst on steroids and the bridge between youth and adulthood.

The film presents a dichotomy with the performances, scenes and palette staging a pristine existence, without even an underlying hint of morbidity, to this bizarre captivity that frees the antagonist to further experiment with a life that essentially, he had anyway, and then quickly manipulated the expected emotions to generate feelings of sympathy to supersede the rage.

Oddly, the film resonates, and the ensemble cast deliver strong truthful performances throughout during both the reserved "normalcy" and the adolescent psychotic break.

John and The Hole opens Friday, August 6, 2021, in select cities. Streaming to follow. See it.


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Country: USA.

Language: English.

Runtime: 98minutes.

Director: Pascual Sisto.

Writer: Nicolás Giacobone.

Producer: Michael Bowes, Nicolás Giacobone, Elika Portnoy, Alex Orlovsky.

Cast: Charlie Shotwell, Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Ehle, Taissa Farmiga.

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