John and the Hole

John and the Hole ★★

A pre-title digression pushes this literal-minded tale of a boy who imprisons his family in a hole into the realm of parable, so instead of inspiring the discomfort of a Lanthimos film or the reckless energy of something like Kid-Thing it remains studied and distanced from its subject, trading in empty-headed sadism and directorial mannerism. The formal detachment threatens to build to more of a point or emotional breakthrough at times (commentary on autism? the crushing routines of family life? authoritarianism? anxiety about adulthood?), but the monotony largely turns out to be self-reinforcing.