M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Five of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2014 and going through September 30, 2015. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t! Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

Released on August 14, 2015. Available On Demand, digital download, and Blu-ray/DVD!

THE BOY (2015)

aka HENLEY, CHILD
Directed by Craig William Macneill
Written by Craig William Macneill, Clay McLeod Chapman (novel)
Starring David Morse, Jared Breeze, Rainn Wilson, Bill Sage, Mike Vogel, Zuleikha Robinson, Aiden Lovekamp, David Valencia, Sam Morse, Andres Echavarria, Maria Luisa Ruiz, Amalia Santamaria, Manuela Guerra, Hong Kyu Park, Victoria Escobar, Susana Jaramillo, Tomas Eastman
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here

If you get this film confused with the mannequin movie with THE WALKING DEAD chick you’re going to be sorely disappointed. THE BOY is a tense and engrossing psychological nightmare through the eyes of a wide-eyed and widely receptive young mind just waiting to turn to darkness.

Ted (Jared Breeze) lives with his father (David Morse) in a rundown motel off of the highway. With no other friends to play with and his dad busy running the motel, Ted spends his day having adventures by himself and collecting a quarter for every dead animal he collects off the highway. Little does his father know that Ted is collecting this money to save for a one-way bus trip to Florida, the place where his mother left for when Ted was young. Ted cheats a bit by tossing trash and feed into the road to entice the animals to go out, eat, and eventually get squashed, but his plan to reunite with his mom works a bit too well as his bait lures a deer out into the road, causing passerby Colby (Rainn Wilson) to wreck his car. This accident leads to a series of events that seems to awaken what looks to be a budding psychopath growing within Ted.

THE BOY is a film which draws its power from its silences. As a viewer, we simply follow Ted on his enthusiastic, but tedious day to day attempts to rectify his boredom. Left on his own, of course, Ted gets into mischief. But as much as this might be the beginnings of a serial killer who may rival Norman Bates one day, filmmaker Craig William Macneill smartly avoids clumsily and simply tossing in symptoms of the homicidal triangle. Ted does end up torturing animals (off screen, for you sensitive types) and setting fires, the bed-wetting isn’t really delved into, but Macneil spaces out these factors throughout the story and makes it integral and more complicated than simply ticking off symptoms on a scorecard. Ted’s acts of violence towards animals come from his desire to collect money to see his mom, and since his dad pays him to keep the road leading up to the motel clean, his father sort of encourages this deviant behavior, not knowing it will take such a grisly turn. Ted first gets the idea of burning things from talking with Colby (Wilson), a passerby who is endeared to the boy and reveals his wife died in a fire. It’s not like Ted all of a sudden starts being a psychopath. We see it all unfold evenly throughout the film in a mesmerizing and quiet fashion. Every beat, every turn, every decision Ted makes is understood because we spend so much time with him, and Macneil isn’t afraid to just let the camera linger on Ted’s fascinating day to day activities to foster that understanding.

Jared Breeze is fascinating as the titular Boy. Breeze isn’t so much giving a performance as he is simply being a young boy doing young boy things for much of the film. The ominous music and dead silence convey a much more insidious undercurrent to his actions, but much of the time the film feels almost like a wildlife video where a kid is filmed in its natural environment left on his own. Breeze’s wide eyes soak in every little action from his father and latch onto anyone else who stays at the hotel. Morse gives the usual silent and strengthened performance that has made him famous. His stilted attempts to connect with Ted feel genuine, and I like that this film didn’t go for the stereotypical abusive father route. Morse’s character truly feels for Ted, having grown up with his own father who ran the motel before him, and sympathizes with him because of it. Wilson also surprised me in a restrained and serious role here as Colby. He goes through a ton of emotions that I’ve rarely seen from the actor, and does so convincingly.

THE BOY is mesmerizing, engrossing, fascinating, and a billion other words that all boil down to being just plain good. It is a patient film that slides its knife into you and twists it so slow that you don’t really know you’re dead until long after it’s too late. Smartly written and acted perfectly, THE BOY is one stellar bad kid film.

Click here for the trailer!


THE 2014-2015 COUNTDOWN!


#14 – THE BOY
#15 – THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN
#16 – THE HOUSE AT THE END OF TIME
#17 – THE STRANGE COLOR OF YOUR BODY’S TEARS
#18 – CUB
#19 – POD
#20 – BACKCOUNTRY
#21 – CLOSER TO GOD
#22 – WE ARE STILL HERE
#23 – A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT
#24 – WYRMWOOD: ROAD OF THE DEAD
#25 – THE EDITOR
#26 – DEAD SNOW 2: RED VS DEAD
#27 – PARA ELISA
#28 – THE HOUSES OCTOBER BUILT
#29 – FROM THE DARK
#30 – EXISTS
#31 – A PLAGUE SO PLEASANT


M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

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