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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » The Boy (Blu-ray)
The Boy (Blu-ray)
Shout Factory // Unrated // March 1, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Oktay Ege Kozak | posted March 4, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

The Boy is one of those slow-paced, mood-oriented art-house horror films with a premise that's far better than its execution. The idea of taking the origin of a horror movie psychopath, which is usually dealt with during the first act of a more generic serial killer flick, and stretching it out to a feature in order to patiently examine the genesis of reprehensible violent behavior, is an admirable starting point. Centering a cerebral horror movie on a 9-year-old boy's first steps into becoming a serial killer is an original approach, and co-writer/director Craig William McNeill certainly proves that he has a knack for creating an eerie mood through his assured direction.

That being said, The Boy could have worked better as a short, maybe as an 80-minute feature if you have to push it. But at an unreasonable 110-minute runtime, it dramatically overstays its welcome before hitting us with an admittedly effective and memorable genre-centric finale. To call is a slow burn would be an understatement, since we don't even get to see a "burn", a metaphor for any sort of story development or progression. For most of its runtime, The Boy is the equivalent of watching one of those super slow motion videos of a match being lit. By the time the glorious fire appears, literally and figuratively, it's a bit too little, too late.

The bare bones story takes place in a motel in the middle of nowhere, a motel perhaps not so curiously modeled after the one from Psycho. The place is run by John (David Morse), who's on the verge of losing his motel since no one stays there anymore. His son Ted (Jared Breeze) lives a lonely and isolated life, which nurtures in him a fascination with death and desolation. The arrival of a mysterious man named William (Rainn Wilson), who might have murdered his wife, furthers Ted's fascination with violence. Ted's frustrations rise as he gradually figures out that he's stuck with his miserable life at the motel, so his violent tendencies takes a turn for the worse, only to explode when a group of drunk bullies decide to throw their post-high school prom party at the motel.

The Boy's credibility hinges on the performance of whoever plays Ted, since most of the scenes provide a slow and passive examination of the behavior that would lead to the creation of a young psychopath. In that sense, Jared Breeze's natural performance sells the film. David Morse's somber presence is always welcome, and it's fun to see Rainn Wilson flirt with darker material.

The Blu-ray:

Video:

Perhaps a bit antithetical to the genre, The Boy mostly sports a bright cinematography, with most of the scenes taking place in full daylight, captured with an evenly lit, natural look. This fits the tone and thematic approach of the film, which is more about a drier examination of the making of a killer than it is about satisfying base genre requirements. The 1080p transfer does a very job at communicating the film's look without any video noise and decent contrast during dark scenes (The gorgeous and haunting final scene especially stands out).

Audio:

The Boy is a meditative experience; so get ready to hear a lot of ambient sound. The DTS-HD 5.1 track does a great job putting the audience in the isolated locations by representing the ambient surround sfx work that such a low-budget film admirably contains. The score is very minimalistic, but when it appears, it definitely leaves a mark.

Extras:

Behind The Scenes: This is an interesting 15-minute featurette where the cast and crew, which includes producer Elijah Wood, go in depth about their intentions for making The Boy. Watching it makes me appreciate the idea more, while finding the languid execution to still be problematic.

Final Thoughts:

The Boy is a solid rental for horror fans that enjoy films that are not afraid to experiment with the preconceived confines of the genre. Regardless of the fact that I don't think it works, especially at this frustratingly long runtime, I'm glad it exists, if only to inspire other filmmakers to push the envelope as far as straight genre exercises are concerned.

Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com

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