The Boy (2015)

A 9-year-old boy named Ted (Jared Breeze) lives in a remote mountain motel with his father, John (David Morse). Together they own and run the failing motel. Ted generally lives in isolation, with no one but his father and the rare motel guest to interact with. As a chain of events gets in the way of Ted’s goals, his sociopathic tendencies bubble to the surface.

This film definitely has a slow burn. For some, it might be slow to the point of being boring. Personally I thought the pace was just slightly above the boring line, but I can see that many people will not like it. The first half of the film is really just character development for Ted. They do an excellent job of showing that he has some qualities that could make him a potential sociopath, and he is fascinated by death. Ted’s ultimate goal is to find a way to to go live with his mom in Florida. This is entirely an understandable wish. He lives in the middle of nowhere, only has his dad to talk to, and doesn’t interact with any kids his own age. I would want to leave too! It isn’t until his plans to leave get ruined that he becomes fully psychotic. This makes the last 15 or so minutes of the film very tense and at times a bit shocking.

The acting in this film is excellent. I was so impressed by Jared Breeze (Cooties) and his performance as Ted. Kids in horror movies tend to either be terrifying or simply annoying. Breeze did a great job of acting like a relatively normal boy in the beginning, only showing glimpses of his insanity here and there, to then becoming a full blown sociopath. The most impressive part of his performance was all in his eyes. While Breeze’s character was carrying out unspeakable acts of violence, his eyes remind dead and soulless. The only emotion that I would say you can really see in those eyes is just a touch of curiosity. Rainn Wilson (The Office) was also amazing as the mysterious drifter who is staying at the motel. I am so used to seeing him in more comedic roles. While the role is a smaller one, Wilson does an excellent job of portraying this darker character with quite a few secrets of his own.

One of my favorite parts about this film is that it brings up the question of nature vs. nurture. Is Ted psychotic because he was born that way? Or is it because of the environment that he grew up in? It is clear to me fairly early in the film that Ted has some of the qualities of a sociopath. These qualities begin very small, and are almost unnoticeable. At one point when a boy his age is staying at the motel Ted learns fairly quickly that some of his actions are not socially acceptable, so he changes those behaviors. This makes me wonder if Ted had been raised in an environment where he was around other children his age, and had a better idea of the social norms, would those sociopathic tendencies have been put in check before they got out of hand.

When deciding if you want to watch this film, keep in mind that it isn’t a scary movie and it moves at a slower pace. It is definitely more of a suspenseful film that relies on the building of tension in order to keep you at the edge of your seat. With how slow the film is, and the fact that all the action only really occurs within the last 15 minutes of the film (and even then it isn’t that action packed), I would say this film is definitely not for everyone. Overall I enjoyed the acting, the story line, and the way they portrayed a kind of coming-of-age story about a child sociopath. It isn’t a “must see” movie, but if the general themes are what you look for in a film then I would recommend this one.

OVERALL RATING: 6/10

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