John and the Hole is a film that shows a lot of promise but never finds its footing. It has one foot in drama and another in horror, but never commits wholly to either. We end up with a film that has nothing to offer, and will no doubt fade from memory by the end of the year. None of the characters are developed enough to care about them, John's motivations are cloudy at best, and the ending is nothing short of anticlimactic. And that's not even mentioning the weird subplot involving a little redhead girl and her terrible mother, whose barebones story pops up three times during the film and never goes anywhere. I have no clue what anyone was trying to achieve here.
Meet John (Shotwell). He's thirteen years old and he hates being a kid. He wants the freedom of adulthood more than anything. His parents are loving and interested in his life, and his sister is the same way. Yet, John decides to drug them and trap them in an abandoned bunker in the woods near his house. The family is bewildered, scared, and unsure of how to process the fact that little John has just done something akin to a sociopath. And what does John do with all this newfound freedom? He buys a TV, he hangs out with his idiot friend, and he learns that being alone ain't all it's cracked up to be. So, John (after about a week, mind you) gets his family out of the hole, and they all go back to business as usual like nothing ever happened. Are you fucking kidding me? No riot act, no attempted murder, no apology. Just dinner. What the hell kind of ending is that?
John and the Hole wants to trick you into thinking there's some profound lesson to be had here. It has all the makings of an A24 horror movie, but it never actually crosses the line into horror. It just keeps making you think it's going to. We're basically just watching this little future serial killer spend his parents' money, lie to their friends, and eventually feel bad about it.