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  • Writer's pictureStrictly Films

John and the Hole (Sundance 2021); Grade: B

Strictly Films welcomes you back to more coverage of this years Sundance Film Festival! Our next film on the block: John and the Hole.

John and the Hole tells a story of a thirteen year old boy named John (Charlie Shotwell) who discovers a big gaping hole while playing with his new drone. John is curious as to why there was a hole, as he was told it was made to be a bunker however it couldn't be finished. John then gets the idea to drug his entire family, as he holds his entire family captive in this hole. Why would John do such a thing?! Who knows, as for John he's living his best life. A life including no responsibility: No longer goes to school, eating whatever he wants, taking out money from his parents bank accounts, and best of all driving the car... WHOOPIE DOO!

The Cinematography t'was solid, I found the four by four square ratio to be an interesting choice, however I felt most of the shots benefited off that choice. The Score when presented was honestly pretty cool, it's a unique score that whenever presented helped elevated this film, very lovely different kind of music it also fits the tone as well. The cast all in all was solid as a whole. Charlie Shotwell playing John had a solid performance as this young boy, that is honestly hard to get much of a read out of. John is pretty much a naive boy, whom always questions everything as he has a tough time comprehending his world around him.What justifies John's actions in wanting to partake in putting his entire family in his hole, is the reveal his mother from a past discussion he had with John, or maybe John was curious to find out how he could handle himself on his own... He's a weird boy indeed.

John and the Hole does have flaws. John earlier drugged the gardener, as the gardener I guess eventually woke up and left their place. I guess the gardener figured he worked a great amount of hours, as that was the reason he got tired and fell asleep. However John gave money in his back pocket while unconscious, as I'm surprised we weren't shown a reaction from the gardener going on about waking up and discovering he had a great amount of cash in his pocket. Another flaw that stands out is the police arriving at the house, as they saw nobody at the house as John was hiding, yet the police never cared to revisit again?! You can say John's family is missing as no one has seen them in weeks, as a family friend clearly sees John has been alone this entire time and from the looks of the house it being filthy... So I don't understand how the police were not hesitant to not revisit or stay at the house till they show up. I didn't care for the last shot of this film, found it kind of silly. Oh and I don't get why John was trying to make a move on his mothers friend, like he tried to get himself caught.

There's something about these simple situational films, where the main focus is how one gets out of this situation and nothing much else, has a soft spot in my heart. John and the Hole is an oddly amusing film that I honestly kind of enjoyed. It's like Home Alone only instead of the child being home alone due to an unfortunate accident, the child is home alone due to it being done on purpose. Like watching this young child going on about in life, living a pretty lavish life as he can spend $750,000+ freely with no responsibilities, while he watches his family suffer is just interesting. This film could've easily went on about making it entertaining, which at times I wish it would try and have John do some bat shit crazy things. Instead John just does simple things a child would do in his situation, not eating a proper diet, leaving things a mess in the household, watching TV and playing video games. The finale was nice, I felt it made a great amount of sense, concluding the character arc within John.

This film a couple times takes a detour away from John, as it shows a young girl and a mother telling this story, while the mother tries to leave the girl behind as the girl is old enough to take on responsibilities now. It does come off random however it does help explain the whole point of the story. Sometimes kids want to immediately become an adult, without actually living life as a care free kid. Kids are beyond spoiled and privileged in their lifestyles, as they should just be only concern about being a kid and mature over time within the years. Sure being an adult has it's perks and benefits, however it's not that simple, there is a whole lot of responsibilities to cover. The second scene involving the mother and daughter was honestly pretty effective, as in a way I was scared for the child to lead a life on her own. I enjoyed the simplicity of this film, while giving the audience a valuable message so they can share with their own children and such.

Overall, John and the Hole was a solid film. I recommend this film. -Mitch Smietana

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