August 28, 2015

VOD Review: The Boy (2015)
Before settling in to watch The Boy, you really should know that it's the first in a planned trilogy of movies, showing Ted's (the boy) growth from creepy kid, into a full-fledged sociopath Serial Killer. Well, we're assuming that he'll become a Serial Killer, but the sociopath part is 100% dead-on.

So, The Boy is the first part in a planned trilogy, which means that it ends on kind of an open note. Since a lot of Horror movies end the same way (usually with a shocking "It's not over!" kind of twist), it's not the biggest deal in the world, but it may put some people off.

Oh, and it's produced by Elijah Wood. That's also fairly notable.
9-year-old Ted and his father lives in a ramshackle motel out in the middle of nowhere, which no one ever wants to stay at, because it's so shitty and out of the way. While dad spends his days drinking himself into a retarded stupor, Ted spends his time more productively by gathering road kill, which earns him a fat quarter for every dead critter that he brings home. Ted is saving up for a bus ticket, you see, because even at 9 he knows he has to get the hell out of this Godforsaken place.

Ted is an angry young boy who has a creepy, vacant look in his eyes. He's got no friends, and he's quick to argue with his dad. He's also keen on torturing an animal or two, but when the occasional guest does come through the motel, he also likes sneaking into their rooms at night to stand in the shadows and stare at them. If they happen to be passed out drunk, maybe he'll put a hand over their mouth and nose, and try to smother them. I guess when you live an isolated life, you have to invent your own fun.

When a shady new guest arrives, Ted sees a chance to escape his hellish life, and so he tries to befriend the man... which of course leads to nothing good for anyone. We will say no more on the plot, so as not to spoil anything for you, but just know that at least Ted lives; because the sociopath children always live in these type of movies.

The Boy is a fascinating movie that gives us a chance to see what is essentially the birth of a sociopath killer happening right before our eyes. Maybe Ted's been wonky from the get go, or maybe his mother leaving he and his father to rot in that lifeless motel just flipped some sort of creepy switch in his brain. Either way though, he's becoming something terrifying.

In a way, The Boy is a coming of age tale, albeit one that involves a child's fascination with death instead of a burgeoning romance, or something sweet like that, as is  par for the course with most coming of age movies. Here, we get a seemingly normal kid who is desperate to escape his life, and unable to do so, so he turns to violence to mete his anger. Played convincingly by Jared Breeze, we can sympathize with Ted and his plight, but we're also wary of him, because we just know that he'd kill us if he got the chance...

This is a slow, depressing movie, and while it's beautifully shot, and boasts some solid acting, it's also a movie that takes its time getting anywhere. At times, its measured pace was a bit much to endure, especially since the whole thing played so somber and hopeless. We'll definitely be checking out the sequel, when and if it ever comes to be, but we sincerely hope that it ups the ante as far as the amount of action and incident goes.

It was interesting to see Rainn Wilson in a dramatic role for a change. We loved The Office, and he was brilliant as Dwight Schrute, but here we get to see him spread his wings and play a troubled character, and do so rather well. Next, we want to see him play a deranged maniac like The Scranton Stranger; we think he'd pull it off perfectly.  And let us not forget about David Morse, who is as great in this one as he always is, which is to say really great. An overall solid job was done here by a solid cast.

A very solid movie in most respects, The Boy is one that could have benefited from a quicker pace and a bit less lingering in the plot department. It's atmospheric as hell, and it sets a hopeless tone early on which never lets up, but that ends up being both a blessing and a cruse; it's a really slow burn, and the payoff doesn't end up being quite good enough to reward us for our patience. It was good, but we wanted a bit more. We're selfish like that.

Don't get us wrong, we liked The Boy, and it's a really good movie, it's just very slow, and it feels like it's essentially just a set-up for a sequel. Which it is. Still, it's more than worthy of a rental, if you're in that Indie/Art House Horror kind of mood.


The Boy is available now on VOD, and in Limited Theatrical Release.

There isn't much of a female presence in The Boy (because evil, patriarchal men are holding strong creative women down on purpose, I'm sure), but the ladies who did show up did their best to brighten up this dark, depressing tale. Thank you ladies.

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