With ‘John and the Hole,’ Michael C. Hall finds a metaphor for adolescence [SUNDANCE STUDIO]

The logline for Pascual Sisto’s new film “John and the Hole” accurately describes what’s inside the tin: “A coming of age psychological thriller that plays out the unsettling reality of a kid who holds his family captive in a hole in the ground.”

But that simple and unsettling premise also belies the depth of the film, which seeks to investigate the conflicted feelings that arise during adolescence and maybe never go away even into adulthood.

“I wanted to show John connecting all these dots about his life. For John the bunker is a safe place, a sort of purgatory or a waiting room where he can keep his family away while he lives on,” Sisto explained in a statement. “His family doesn’t see it in the same way, obviously. For them, it’s completely unexpected. The hole is a mystery to him, it feels right. Putting his family in it becomes a visceral act, something that has to be done, like a rite of passage.”

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Starring Charlie Shotwell as John and Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Ehle, and Taissa Farmiga as his stunned family, “John in the Hole” mixes deadpan comedy with elements of horror and thriller while never betraying its coming-of-age origins. Originally set to debut at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, the project will now screen during the 2021 Sundance Film Festival instead.

For the actors especially, the film, they explain, helped them think about specific questions about adulthood — namely, what being an adult even feels like. 

“There’s no ceremony that we collectively agree now you’re an adult,” says Hall in an interview with Gold Derby. “You just [are one].”

“There’s a lot of pretending involved. You are one and then you just are,” Sisto says.

As for Farmiga, she finds being an adult means one should “accept your fate and take the first step forward to doing what you have to do.”

“Being an adult means you have to stay in the hole,” adds Hall. With a film like “John and the Hole,” it’s hard to think of a more appropriate way to end.

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