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Sundance: John and the Hole

John (Charlie Shotwell) has his family trapped in a hole. Why? Because he’s tired of being a kid and craves the freedom adults have. And his family simply gets in the way. So one by one he drugs his dad Brad (Michael C. Hall), his mom Anna (Jennifer Ehle) and his sister Laurie (Taissa Farmiga) and drags them to an abandoned cement foundation on the property. The hole is deep enough to prevent the family members from climbing out and secluded enough that no one will hear their screams for help. John occasionally visits them to leave them food, water and some other items. Otherwise he’s content with having the family mansion, car and bank account all to himself. Just how long will John be able to keep this up before something happens?

DIrected by Pascual Sisto and written by Nicolás Giacobone, John and the Hole is an enthralling thriller that offers plenty of suspense. The biggest disconnect for me was feeling sympathy for the characters. This is clearly a rich white family who enjoys a lot of privilege. I might have felt more connected had the story been about relatable characters. However, maybe that was the intent. Maybe the audience was meant to enjoy seeing these characters tormented.

John and the Hole is a captivating feature debut by director Pascual Sisto and I would recommend it for its slow build and unique concept.

John and the Hole premiered at the virtual 2021 Sundance Film Festival as part of their U.S. Dramatic Competition.

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