EVIL BOY (2019)
aka STRAY, TVAR
Directed by Olga Gorodetskaya
Written by Olga Gorodetskaya (screenplay), (from the book by Anna Starobinets)
Starring Elena Lyadova, Vladimir Vdovichenkov, Sevastian Bugaev, Yan Runov, Evgeniy Tsyganov, Roza Khayrullina, Konstantin Topolaga, Anna Ukolova, Evgeniy Antropov, Konstantin Murzenko, Yuriy Pavlov, Svetlana Tokarskaya, Darya Belousova, Sergey Belov, Margarita Bychkova
I’m really liking the fact that Russia has been putting out some horror lately. SPUTNIK might have been somewhat of a misfire, but it was still an impressive offering. I also liked BABA YAGA: TERROR IN THE DARK FOREST, which I reviewed a few weeks ago and thought it was a fun Amblin-esque lite horror venture. Add EVIL BOY to the list of decent offerings from Russia. It’s nothing that’s going to knock the snow off your tires, but still, I can appreciate this attempt from a country not known for their horror films.
After losing their own child, a couple happens upon a feral child that has been roaming the wooded areas and historical buildings of the countryside. When they take the child in, they try to love the child like he was their own. But soon, both parents separately begin to have their doubts about the true nature of this strange young man and as the child grows older, it becomes apparent that something is definitely not right.
I want to point out that EVIL BOY has some rough CG moments. They are well directed and disturbingly choreographed in terms of causing a scare or startle, but the imagery itself looks to be animated into the frame in a very rudimental way. Still, the scenes where the little ankle-biter is goes feral on random kids teasing him in the park, friends of his parents, or parents themselves are rather shocking nevertheless.
The story is your typical adopted kid horror story where one parent is attached to the child and too busy loving it while the other is suspicious of the child. It’s something that has been a staple in horror since THE OMEN, THE GOOD SON, ORPHAN, and many others like it. While it follows this story pretty much beat for beat, the film goes get redundant when the parents switch their attitudes and while the loving parent begins to distrust the kid, the other becomes ensorcelled by it. It’s kind of fun to see this shifting of gears between parents, but still makes for some repetitious scenes.
While you’re not going to be seeing anything new in EVIL BOY, I will say that there is quality in this low budgeter. It’s put together with a deep respect for horror and actually succeeds at making some highly effective jump scares and moments of inching tension. EVIL BOY is far from original and perfect, but it works more than it doesn’t.