What’s the Meaning of John and the Hole Title?

‘John and the Hole’ is a psychological thriller film directed by Pascual Sisto. The movie is based on Nicolás Giacobone’s short story ‘El Pozo.’ It follows John (Shotwell), a young boy who is bored with life and discovers an unfinished bunker near his house. Soon, John turns to the dark side when he strands his family in the hole and tries to get a taste of adulthood. Given the movie’s intertwining of several complex themes, viewers must be curious to learn the meaning of ‘John and the Hole.’ SPOILERS AHEAD!

Meaning of John and the Hole

‘John and the Hole’ revolves around John, a thirteen-year-old boy who lives with his father, Brad (Michael C. Hall of ‘Dexter‘), and mother, Anna (Jennifer Ehle of ‘1923‘). John also has an older sister, Laurie (Taissa Farmiga). One day, John drugs his family and drops them in a hole he discovered near his house. As his family is left to fend for themselves, John embarks on a quest to experience adulthood in a spine-chilling and deeply disturbing take on the coming-of-age genre.

In the film, John’s story arc revolves around his exploration of what it means to be an adult as he lives out his wildest whims while his family is no longer present to restrict him. As a result, it is safe to say that John sees his family and their overprotectiveness as a hindrance to him growing up. Thus, John gets rid of them by throwing them in the hole. However, he soon starts feeling lonely and accepts the pitfalls of being a fully functional adult. As a result, the hole signifies the loneliness in John’s heart and the sense of incompleteness he feels while living as an adult.

However, the movie’s title gets a deeper significance when we learn that it is a popular children’s tale. In the movie, a young girl, Lily, lives with her single mother. Lily’s mother tells her the tale of John and the Hole. Hence, it is implied that John and his family exist within the story, which may or may not be inspired by a real family’s story. As a result, the title has a fable-like aesthetic, which reflects the movie’s tone and treatment. Furthermore, the movie’s ending suggests a dark fate for Lily’s parents.

The movie’s ending implies Lily’s parents are dead, and the story of John and the Hole is her coping mechanism. Hence, the hole could signify the pain and strife the absence of her parents has left a literal hole within Lily. Ultimately, the movie’s title can be interpreted in different ways in context with the movie’s narrative and themes. However, it mainly highlights the sense of incompleteness that one feels as an adult and explores possible reasons John feels this way. As a result, the title reflects its main character’s story arc while hinting at other aspects of the narrative that transform the seemingly odd tale of a young boy into a disturbing fable.

Read More: Where Was John and the Hole Filmed?