Directed by Pascual Sisto, ‘John and the Hole’ is a psychological thriller film based on Nicolás Giacobone’s short story ‘El Pozo.’ The story follows John, a young boy who discovers a hole in the ground near his house. John soon unleashes his dark side by dropping his family in the pit while he tries to experience what it means to be an adult. The dark and tense thriller has a strong coming-of-age theme, propelling John’s story further as his family is left to survive in the pit. Naturally, viewers must be curious to learn about John and his family’s fate and the complex subtext hidden behind the ending of ‘John and the Hole.’ SPOILERS AHEAD!
John and the Hole Plot Synopsis
‘John and the Hole’ follows John (Charlie Shotwell of ‘Morbius‘), a thirteen-year-old inquisitive boy who lives with his parents and elder sister. John’s father, Brad (Michael C. Hall of ‘Dexter‘), and mother, Anna (Jennifer Ehle of ‘1923‘), are loving parents who look after all of John’s needs. John also has an elder sister, Laurie (Taissa Farmiga of ‘The Gilded Age‘), who deeply cares about her brother. One day, Brad gifts John a toy drone. While playing with the drone, John goes into the woods near his house and discovers a hole in the ground. Soon, John starts acting strange and questions his parents about the hole. They explain that it is an unfinished bunker but do not give him a clear answer.
Sometime later, John interacts with his gardener, Charlie, and gives him lemonade, which knocks Charlie unconscious. Later at night, John, who has drugged his parents, carries them to the hole and drops them inside. The next morning, Anna, Brad, and Laurie are shocked to find themselves in the pit but worry about John’s safety. John soon arrives at the hole and drops some supplies for his family while refusing to get them out of the hole. As a result, Laurie deduces that John drugged and threw them in the hole. Later, John uses the family’s car to go around the town and eats junk food.
John covers up his tracks by informing their neighbor, Paula, that his family is out of town as they have gone to the hospital to visit his comatose grandfather. As John enjoys his newfound freedom, he continues to drop supplies for his family. However, after John invites his friend, Peter, to stay over at his house, he stops visiting his family. As a result, Anna, Brad, and Laurie are starved and nearly driven to insanity. However, Peter soon leaves, and John starts feeling lonely. Meanwhile, John continues to practice for the upcoming state-level tennis competition and lies to his coach about his family’s whereabouts.
Soon, Paula suspects John after seeing his strange behavior and tries contacting Anna, only to learn that she has left her phone in the house. Later, Paula returns with a police officer, but John hides and locks the house, saving his secret from being spilled out. Meanwhile, Brad’s anger with John subsides, and the family realizes John is trying to experience adulthood as their absence gives him a sense of freedom. Later, John, who feels extremely lonely, cooks dinner for his family and eats it with them by the hole. However, John is still not ready to free his family from the bottomless pit of despair he left them in.
John and the Hole Ending: Does John Free His Family?
Toward the movie’s end, John finds himself completely alone, living the life of an adult. Meanwhile, John’s family grapples with hunger and insanity while they spend their time in the pit. However, John eventually has a change of heart after a brief conversation with his sister Laurie. Furthermore, John cooking dinner for his family and eating it with them signifies his desire for companionship despite his innate urge to become an adult and live by himself. As a result, John drops the ladder in the hole for his family to escape the despair he subjected them to. However, once free the family finds John drowning in the swimming pool. Upon closer inspection, Brad finds John is completely safe.
The film ends with John having a quiet family dinner with Brad, Anna, and Laurie. Thus, the film ends as it started – with John having an ideal dinner with his family. In the movie, John’s parents pacify his curiosities and inquisitive nature, which seems to be why he drops them in the hole. Moreover, John desires to experience the sense of freedom adults enjoy. As a result, he embarks on his own exploration of adulthood when he does not receive a satisfactory answer from his parents. Earlier in the movie, we see subtle moments denoting John’s family’s overprotectiveness towards him. In the end, John freeing his family extends the same sense of protectiveness to his parents, and the movie ends without John facing the repercussions of his actions. Instead, the family unites for a nice dinner as they refuse to acknowledge the effects of the ordeal they faced because of John.
Who Is Lily? What Happens to Her?
In the film, a subplot introduces viewers to Lily, a young girl about John’s age who lives with her single mother. Lily’s father has abandoned Lily and her mother. In one scene, Lily’s mother tells her the story of John and the Hole. Toward the end, we see Lily’s mother also abandons her, leaving behind some money that will last her roughly a year. Lily’s mother reminds her to be responsible before leaving without the intention of returning.
The film’s final scene shows Lily finding the same hole where John had thrown his family. Lily’s story is a juxtaposition of John’s circumstances. While John’s perception of being an adult is eating junk food and living out his wildest whims, Lily is expected to be responsible and work hard to ensure her survival. As a result, Lly’s situation highlights how society expects girls to act grown-up compared to boys, who are given considerably more freedom. However, the juxtaposition between John and Lily’s circumstances runs deeper into the film’s narrative structure.
In Lily’s story, it is likely that both her parents died when she was very young, leaving her to fend for herself besides a small inheritance. As a result, Lily was forced to grow up while still being a child. Furthermore, Lily’s mother telling her the story of John and the Hole implies Lily made up the whole story, which also explains some of John’s actions and the overall lack of consequences for them.
Ultimately, John’s family is in denial about the past few weeks’ events, seemingly representing Lily’s psychological response to her mother and father’s deaths. Hence, it is likely that the story of John and his family was a fable cooked up by the psyche of a troubled Lily who was forced to grow up while still being a child. As a result, Lily’s reality-driven perception of adulthood differs from John’s dream-like experience. However, because of her denial about her circumstances, Lily still views herself as a child. Therefore, the movie’s ending can be interpreted as a message about the pitfalls of preventing children from growing up and circumstances that force them to become adults very early in life.
Read More: Where Was John and the Hole Filmed?