Vague Visages’ The Hole in the Fence review contains minor spoilers. Joaquin del Paso’s 2021 movie stars Valeria Lamm, Lucciano Kurti and Eric David Walker. Check out the VV home page for more film reviews, along with cast/character summaries, streaming guides and complete soundtrack song listings.
The Hole in the Fence rages against elitism and toxic masculinity. Joaquin del Paso’s scathing film chronicles a modern day Mexican revolution as a group of adolescent men-in-training learn to “protect the elites” during a camping retreat at Centro Escolar Los Pinos. Led by a group of old school academics, the young protagonists essentially play Follow the Leader while investigating the alleged presence of a native ghost, one that supposedly connects the boys to God. The Hole in the Fence paints an ugly yet mesmerizing portrait of institutional deception.
Written by del Paso and Lucy Pawlak, The Hole in the Fence’s conflict revolves around the weakest links at Centro Escolar Los Pinos. Joaquincito (Lucciano Kurti) gets alienated because of his personality, whereas Diego Peña (Eric David Walker) struggles physically because of a neckbrace. The script heavily emphasizes a groupthink phenomenon, evidenced by a series of outdoors bullying sequences that link the Mexican drama to popular productions such as Lord of the Flies (1963, 1990) and Yellowjackets (2021-). The Hole in the Fence differs from those stories through its steady references to Mexican culture via character dialogue. As the curious camera of cinematographer Alfonso Herrera Salcedo shifts back and forth, del Paso and Pawalk inject a convenient twist a la The Village (2004), resulting in the audience siding (presumably) with the younger characters instead of the manipulative adults.
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Composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein (Stranger Things) accentuate The Hole in the Fence’s subtextual themes through spooky sound design and staccato articulations. One gets the sense early on that a spiritual presence could in fact manipulate the characters, both young and old. And the recurring theme of religion informs viewers about the kids’ state of mind while being instructed to be nothing but strong, masculine men. Del Paso and his cinematographer poke fun at the elder males with a heavily homoerotic and music video-like lollipop sequence, suggesting that the academics’ puritanical ways blind them from the truth. The order’s Darwinist teachings produce patriotic zombies, rather than young men with strong, open-minded convictions about not only the world as a whole, but of their native country.
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The Hole in the Fence makes a damning statement about toxic masculinity and the consequences for women, certainly for those who live near Centro Escolar Los Pinos. The film’s terrifying conclusion will speak to anyone who’s ever been left behind for simply existing outside of the pack. The Hole in the Fence functions as a voice for the voiceless; it’s a rallying cry for Mexican youths who don’t automatically drink the Kool-Aid made by high society snobs.
The Hole in the Fence released in America on May 26, 2023 via Altered Innocence.