The Boy – 3 out of 5
Psycho remains one of the greatest horror films I’ve ever seen. The reason it is so amazing is the conflicted and severally isolated character of Norman Bates. The television series prequel/re-imagination Bates Motel does a great job of showing Norman trying to grow up with these unhealthy urges that are within him that later manifest in horrifying and very murderous ways. The Boy definitely has that feel and kinda/sorta comes off as a great homage to the Hitchcock classic…but it will never reach the same level as Psycho.
|Points for trying though.|
Ted (Jared Breeze) is a young boy living with his father (David Morse) at their motel in the middle of nowhere. Business is bad and Ted has a lot of time on his hands—sadly, that time is spent being infatuated with death as he keeps an eye out from roadkill on the highway in front of the motel. Meanwhile, Ted’s father is a shell of a man as he copes with being alone and running a floundering family business. One night, Ted arranges for a deer to be hit by a car and the occupant of that car (Rainn Wilson) is injured and stays at the motel. Ted befriends the guest and soon learns that the man carries a secret and it’s a secret that will only fuel Ted’s fascination with death.
|I wanna see their Yelp! reviews.|
From a technical standpoint, The Boy is decently put together. Director Craig William Macneill does a great job of showing the isolation that both Ted and his father are feeling and there’s definitely a sense of dread in the air and that Ted is up to no good and will, at some point, go full serial killer. Additionally, the performances in the film are absolutely dynamite! Both David Morse and Rainn Wilson are amazing but Jared Breeze is definitely unsettling as Ted.
|Kids are already creepy but Breeze knocked his creepiness out of the park.|
There are times when he genuinely comes off like a normal kid who had the unfortunate card pulled from the deck that required him to live alone in a dying motel but then there are times when you see the killer in him and it is frighteningly realistic. The performances quickly become the strongest aspect of the film. Combining that with the excellent use of music and overall atmosphere of the film, it allowed this movie to have a higher rating than it probably should have because this movie has one thing that really hurts it: The Boy gets boring.
|David Morse is one of those great "Hey, I've seen that guy before" actors.|
Despite its overall feeling of dread, the film also comes with an amazing feeling of tedium. For what the story is going for, the running length proves to be too long. This reality is reinforced when you realize that you learn little about the characters during this length of time. Ted may prove to be a little more unhinged at the end but, aside from that, there is little-to-no character growth during an almost two hour running length. This long running length ends up with a plethora of scenes and shots that are, on paper, meant to establish mood, but often end up feeling like filler or that the director was unwilling to make edits that would have made the film flow a little more fluidly. Things aren’t helped at all when it feels like that a lot of plot threads feel like they are dangling in the wind during this. Sometimes these plot threads are re-connected and resolved but sometimes they feel unnecessary. For example, there’s a sequence in the film where we see Ted show off some of his crazy when a family stays at the motel. This portion of the film works because you see how unsettling Ted can be but, at the same time, this part went so long that it gave the feel that it would come back into play—but it never did.
|Rainn Wilson, seen here transforming into Nick Offerman.|
There was potential and promise to The Boy. The acting is flippin’ fantastic and the story, while very familiar in feel, is prime breeding ground for thrills and chills. Additionally, the film has great use of music and definitely has a working atmosphere that is synonymous with horror and suspense but the film’s plot drags too often and the character development just isn’t there. It has enough working for it to be average and somewhat decent but not enough to make it amazing.