One of my favourite things to do is to flip through Netflix’s horror catalogue and pick either something that looks REALLY bad or something that looks like it might actually be good – of course, the good ones are the rarity.
The Boy caught my eye because, at first, I thought that it was the film that was just coming out this year which looks both hilarious and horrendous all at one time. But the description grabbed me and pulled me in ultimately. “Neglected by his heartbroken father and abandoned by his mother, a boy who is fascinated with death drifts toward becoming a future serial killer.” Anyone that knows me, or at least knows my reading habits, knows that I am very interested in serial killers and even now I’m currently 700 pages deep in “Fatal Vision,” the story of Captain Jeffrey MacDonald and his journey through the trials when he was accused and later convicted of murdering his pregnant wife and two young daughters. Being a psychology major, abnormal psychology is a deep-seated interest of mine. Anyway, that’s what drew me to The Boy.
The first thing that needs to be said about this film is that it is a veeeeeryyyyy slow burn. I can definitely see where some critics are coming from (Devan Coggan, for example, from Entertainment Weekly) when they say that the film feels overly long and drags at certain points. It has a really great score, which is something I put a lot of stock into when I watch a film… especially horror films.
While I can’t say I was enthralled throughout the entire film, which is an hour and 45 minutes long and contains many, many, MANY landscape shots of mountains, I was interested. If you’re going into this one looking for a scare, you’re not going to find it. I hesitate to even call it a horror movie simply because it is just not scary. Nobody is going to watch this and go, “Yes, that 9-year-old boy scraping roadkill off the road IS frightening!” I’d label it as more of a thriller than anything. Rainn Wilson, however, I did find off-putting at least. I’ve never seen him in a serious role such as this one and it was an unexpectedly positive surprise.
The first two-thirds of the film are building up to something and the ending is pretty climactic. The last few minutes of the film are, by far, the most chilling in the entire film. All in all, it felt like an “artsy” sort of thriller and it failed to… well, thrill. I was just expecting more to happen the whole time, instead of watching idling silence for the first 70 minutes. I’d still recommend that anyone who considers themselves a fan of the genre give it a watch, but it’s not going to be hailed as a classic anytime soon, that’s for sure.