Review: In ‘The Boy,’ an Unnerving 9-Year-Old Makes His Move


Jared Breeze plays a free-ranging boy who bonds with a shady drifter, played by Rainn Wilson, in “The Boy.”

Eliza Morse

There are engrossing elements in Craig William Macneill’s “The Boy,” the tale of a creepy motel (no, it’s not “Psycho”) and a child sociopath (no, not “The Bad Seed”). Building on their Sundance short “Henley,” Mr. Macneill and his co-screenwriter, Clay McLeod Chapman, have developed a feature stunning to behold if somewhat unpersuasive in narrative.

It’s 1989, and 9-year-old Ted (Jared Breeze) has grown up alone, bored and left to his feral instincts in a dilapidated mountain motel run by his father, John (an impeccable David Morse), who flails under the burdens of running his business and raising his son alone. (The hills of muggy Colombia stand in for a Western backwater, though you’d never guess it from Thomas Hallbauer’s vivid crumbling-Americana production design, abetted by Noah Greenberg’s hypnotic cinematography.)

For diversion, Ted collects roadkill and logs his gruesome finds in a notebook. He also deposits garbage on the road to attract prey. When a shady drifter (an excellent Rainn Wilson) has the misfortune to crash his car into a large animal, stranding him at the motel, he and Ted develop a bond, though the drifter’s past and Ted’s proclivities are an ill-fated combination.

Ted’s inclinations boil over when drunken upper-crust high school seniors occupy the motel for prom-night revels and torment the boy. Donning a crude “Lord of the Flies”-type crown, Ted exacts an incendiary class comeuppance. And yet “The Boy,” despite remarkable performances and gorgeous imagery, does not sufficiently flesh out its subject. (Two projected sequels may prove illuminating.)


Trailer: ‘The Boy’

A future serial killer is seen during his childhood.

By CHILLER FILMS on Publish Date August 9, 2015.

Photo by Internet Video Archive.

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