Starring David Morse, Jared Breeze, Rainn Wilson
Directed by Craig William Macneill
Available in limited theatres and on VOD August 18, 2015
Nothing hurts worse than the pain of loneliness (maybe a 12-gauge blast to the foot might be worse), but there have been claims that people suffering from extreme desertion issues can begin to slowly lose their minds, with disastrous results. In Craig William Macneill’s front row look of a young mind warping beyond repair, The Boy, the focal point is ultimately a disaster in the works; yet, you will stay in your seat, waiting for the imminent combustion to occur.
Nine-year-old Ted (Breeze) is a lonely child, stuck at his father’s (Morse) rundown roadside motel in the middle of nowhere. He strips the rooms when the guests are gone, provides ice when needed… and just looks in windows from time to time. Creepy? Yes, he is. Is there a starting point for his slow descent into madness? Now just a second, as I haven’t even gotten to the good stuff yet.
He removes roadkill from the bypass in exchange for quarters from his dad, and his inquisitive (and quite impressive) ability to set booby-traps for animals reeks of a trapper’s nature. Ted appears equally as depressed as his father since his mom decided to move to Florida (reason untapped), and the solitude is taking a toll on the young lad. Rainn Wilson plays a traveler who bulldozes a deer in the road (cleverly set up to die by Ted himself), and the youngster becomes attached to the grieving man, looking to him as some kind of rescuer of sorts. The two harbor some deep issues, making them quite the match as two souls that need a reprieve.
Little Ted’s mind starts to spiral downward as the movie progresses, and I’ll spare the details, but rest assured the line between sane and insane is crossed with reckless abandon, and you’ll wonder if this unfortunate little kid had issues before his current situation, or if the situation only exacerbated them, and this is what makes the movie so damned interesting. If I had to search for a negative point, it would be that the road we travel on as a viewer is far too long before the real damaging results occur, but other than that, the performances are spot-on, and the scenery is magnificent in its desolate depiction. Dusty roads, vast expanses of nothingness behind the motel, and a feeling of emptiness will surround you while you watch.
MacNeill really hit the nail on the head with the direction here, as this is a psychological delve into the mind of a child who looks to have no assistance coming any time soon, and the detrimental effects of an unaided psyche are soon to be on display. This is pretty powerful stuff, and one that I could definitely recommend to everyone. But a word of warning: If you see this motel with the “vacancy” sign up, keep on driving… there’s GOT to at least be a Motel 6 around somewhere.