The movie "Holes" came on the other day, and I noticed something that I didn't pick up on as a kid; this movie is super dark. To start the film, we are living in a dystopian world where a child who is falsely accused of stealing a pair of shoes faces an 18-month sentence despite his obvious innocence. From the courtroom, he is taken to an unregulated juvenile detention center run by a criminal, a fake doctor, and a woman who forces them to dig holes so she can find buried treasure.
This is a scary start to the movie, but nothing too crazy. It's when we get to the backstory on the history of the area that it really gets dark. Back in the day, Camp Green Lake had an actual lake and was a successful 19th-century society. In that town lived a white school teacher named Katherine Barlow and an African-American onion picker named Sam. Sam was an all-around stud who fell for Katherine. So far this seems like a nice love story for kids.
When the rich and racist son of the Lake's owner, Charles "Trout" Walker, saw Katherine and Sam kissing in the schoolhouse, he decided the only natural reaction is to burn the entire town down and kill Sam in cold blood. Desperately trying to stop this heinous crime, Katherine approaches the sheriff who instead of stopping anything, gets drunk and tries to sexually assault Katherine. You know, kids stuff!
Guess what, it doesn't stop at the savage and racist killing of a nice onion picker. From there, Katherine decides to denounce all men and go on a killing spree throughout the area. She murders the sheriff in front of all his inmates and then robs and kills from Green Lake to Timbuktu. While she has reason to be upset, becoming a proponent for civil rights would have been a much better path then mass murder and thief.
Luckily, there is some humanity, as a curse has been placed on the land ever since Sam's unjust death. The lake dries up, setting the stage for Trout and his family to go absolutely mad in their search for Katherine's buried treasure that she accumulated from all of the people she robbed. This is how the current warden went mad with power as her grandpa made her dig for the gold, even on Christmas.
Eventually, all of the happy kid's movie stuff happens when the curse gets lifted, Stanley gets vindicated, Zero finds his parents, and the families reap the rewards of their treasure. Overall, it's good that there is a children's movie like this. It has a rich backstory and a strong message for kids. Just next time you watch this sweet film, don't be surprised by its dark underbelly.