John and the Hole

John and the Hole ★★★½

John (Charlie Shotwell) & his family -- parents Brad (Michael C. Hall) and Anna (Jennifer Ehle), plus older sister, Laurie (Taissa Farmiga) -- legit live in a glass house, surrounded by forest. And this sleek box of a place is swanky. These people are clearly rich, and they use their wealth to live in the middle of the woods in a fancy house, probably so they don't have to mingle with us peasants. This film's strength comes from not directly stating anything like that, but providing lots of visuals, plus dialogue clues, to support the idea that this family prefers to live in fancy isolation, away from reality as much as possible.

Pascual Sisto's steely, sophisticated direction, and Nicolás Giacobone's wise, wry script, makes this insular, rich family, more accessible than they might otherwise have been. Like when John first discovers the hole and asks dad Brad about it, and Brad explains that it's a bunker. Of course John wants to know more about that, so Brad elaborates, "A bunker is a house underneath the earth where you can hide from a big storm". Of course what he doesn't mention is constructed bunkers are generally things only people with money can have built. By the time John relocates his family to the bunker -- yeah, that's right -- there's been just enough characterization of the three, that empathizing with them is actually possible.

Hall, Ehle, and Farmiga all really click; it'd be interesting to see some b-roll with Sisto directing the three of them in those bunker scenes. Shotwell honestly gives one of the best performances I've ever seen in a film. He's got this understanding of John that makes his character super dimensional. His expert control of John's poker face, that only ever slips when he thinks he's not being watched. How he makes his voice somehow both flat and tremulous. It's some really impressive acting, combined with Sisto's auteur-like direction that makes John something beyond the weird kid in the horror movie, that behaves in increasingly unnerving ways.

This isn't just a standard creepy kid movie. Nor is it a purely eat the rich film. Though it does have shades of both, strategically weaved in by Sisto & Giacobone. A truly odd piece of cinema I consider a gem after my first watch. I'll definitely watch this again though, as I'm about positive a good chunk of it went over my head! Not in a bad way, though. I was glued to the screen for this riveting world in the glass house & bunker.

Rented this on Prime & it's totally worth it, imo.

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