The 13th Floor

Rob G.’s Pick Of The Week: SpectreVision & Chiller Films’ THE BOY

It’s a shame that there are two genre movies out there with the title THE BOY right now, because they’re both great for completely different reasons, and people should check them both out. But I fear the title will either deter or distract them. Today, my recommendation is to check out the 2015 film, THE BOY, which was produced by Elijah Wood’s production company SpecteVision with Chiller Films and is now available on Blu-Ray courtesy of our friends over at Scream Factory.

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The film, directed by Craig Macneill and written by Macneill and Clay McLeod Chapman, is a very deliberately paced story about a boy, Ted Henley (Jared Breeze) and his father John (played by the great David Morse) who run and operate the Mt. Vista Motel out in (practically) the middle of nowhere. Ever since Ted’s mother left them, his relationship with his father has been fractured. His dad does pay him for roadkill, because what the hell else is he going to find out there? His only other social interactions are with people that occasionally check in, only it’s been pretty dead as of late.

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One evening, an abrupt car accident on the neighboring road brings the mysterious William Colby (Rainn Wilson) to the motel, where he stays to recuperate, and for the most part, avoid the law. His background is a bit of an enigma, yet Ted forms an odd bond and fascination with the emotionally disturbed Colby.

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Without any real parental supervision, Ted tends to do whatever he wants and the lonelier he gets, the angrier he tends to get. I could never quite tell what direction the movie was going in, even way up until the very end, it had me guessing, but I was always a bit on edge as the director staged several instances where Ted could easily do something very, very terrible. The less said, the better because you’ll enjoy it much more if you don’t know what’s coming. But the point is, I haven’t been this tense while watching a movie in a long while.

The time period of this story is 1989, which I didn’t realize at first, but later confirmed by the epic usage of the Starship’s “Nothing’s Going To Stop Us,” so without giving too much away, I would boldly even be willing to call this NORMAN BATES BEGINS, because I’m sure the implied backstory of the original PSYCHO played a huge part in the film’s inspiration.

Backtracking on where the original story came from gets a bit confusing. It was based on a short film by Macneill and Chapman titled HENLEY, which was in turn loosely inspired by a chapter in a novel written by Chapman. Regardless, this is a story that’s lived with the filmmakers for a long time and it’s evident in the meticulous execution of it. Acting across the board is top notch. I’m really loving the radical choices that Rainn Wilson is making in his post-THE OFFICE career and this is up there with one of his dramatic best. David Morse is always great in everything he’s in, and of course, they found an exceptional child actor in Jared Breeze, who was totally believable the whole way through, and had moments where, despite his innocent appearance, he scared the crap out of me with what it’s implied he’s capable of.

This one isn’t a straight out traditional “horror” film, but I assure you those final moments will stay with you long after the movie is over.

It’s available now via Scream Factory on Blu-Ray or on VOD.

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