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the hole in the fence

Movie Reviews

[TIFF] ‘The Hole in the Fence’ review: A stomach churning look at toxic masculinity

Boys will be boys.

The Hole in the Fence is a frightening coming of age story that looks at masculinity, religion, and status. The movie is about an elitist boys summer camp. It is the place that helps its participants get closer to God and helps turn boys into men. It is penned in and secluded and the boys are told they are always being watched. When a hole is found in the perimeter fence, hysteria spreads throughout the camp.

The film has a large cast. The group of boys act as one with the perceived weak being targeted. As expected when this much testosterone gathers in one spot, homophobia becomes the main unifier. The Hole in the Fence does an excellent job of creating its atmosphere. It is not long before the youth are not seen as children, but as a single organism to be frightened of.

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This is not just limited to the youth. The guardians at the camp have also begun targeting those they feel will not be the future elite. (They have also picked their favorites.) The fear of indoctrination is constantly reinforced over the course of the film. It is not just in the actions of the characters, but literally stated. Except what is being preached is the terror of being accepting of anything different.

[TIFF] 'The Hole in the Fence' review: A stomach churning look at toxic masculinity

There are some easy points of comparison for The Hole in the Fence, with Lord of the Flies being the most obvious. This is especially noticeable in the final act. Director Joaquin del Paso does an excellent job of creating tone. There is a constant sense of terror throughout the entire film. The kids seem to be in danger the entire time and each moment seems to promise something awful.

This can make for a difficult watch. The film never allows the audience to get comfortable. After a beginning that gives a sense of “boys will be boys” silliness, there is always a feeling of dread. The Hole in the Fence never lets up and will turn viewers away. The film is never bad, but it is hard to get any entertainment value out of it

The Toronto International Film Festival takes place from September 9 – September 18

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