MOVIE REVIEW: We hang on in there with harrowing thriller 'The Boy Behind the Door'
Co-writers and directors David Charbonier and Justin Powell make a fine first impression with their full-length feature debut.
It follows best pals Bobby (Lonnie Chavis) and Kevin (Ezra Dewey) and their efforts to survive after they are kidnapped and taken to a strange house in the middle of nowhere.
On a few occasions Bobby and Kevin proclaim they are “friends to the end” and it’s easy to believe it as the youngsters deliver powerhouse performances defying their age and experience.
Loyal to what some would see as a fault, the pair would die for each other - and they may well have to as they are put through emotional and physical hell by their tormentors.
This is harrowing stuff and there are no adults around to come and save the day. Bobby and Kevin aren’t quipping, cursing, caper-hungry kids ala Stranger Things or The Monster Squad ; all they care about is keeping each other alive.
Images shown by Charbonier and Powell - like a bloody shirt and wads of cash - say more than dozens of words ever could.
The sun-kissed first couple of scenes hint at hope but even then, the co-helmers utilise wide and low-angle shots to give you the sense something bad is lurking in seemingly safe surroundings.
Then darkness falls, literally and figuratively, as we move to a Don’t Breathe -esque house that’s almost a character itself.
Anton Sanko’s score incorporates things within the frame, such as an oil pump and a frantic heartbeat, and the use of TV audio adds to the creepiness.
Both leading boys are a revelation. Chavis in particular wows as Bobby is as brave as can be - but still a kid forced into a living nightmare.
He’s resourceful and intelligent, however that doesn’t stop him from crying when he cuts one of his kidnappers or yelling in frustration when a car getaway plan fails.
The Boy Behind the Door takes a difficult subject matter and handles it sensitively while still opening up a world of terrifying horror.
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● The Boy Behind the Door is available on DVD now.
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