The Boy Behind the Door
Despite its early scenes of carefree children frolicking in sun-drenched meadows, The Boy Behind the Door has a strong sense of foreboding from the get-go. The young leads are often depicted in long shots, isolated and tiny amongst their surroundings. How easy would it be for them to disappear, for some depraved individual with unspeakable intentions to snatch them away? As it turns out, it’s pretty damn easy indeed.
Bobby (Lonnie Chavis) and Kevin (Ezra Dewey) are both around 12 years old, and their chances of reaching their next birthday look increasingly remote, since they’re abducted within minutes of the film’s opening credits. Kevin is dragged into a lonely and grim-looking house, while Bobby is left in the boot of the car. Although he escapes his confinement, he is unwilling to leave his friend behind, even though Kevin has now been imprisoned inside the house – making him, well, the boy behind the door. It’s a case of fight or flight, and since they’re unable to easily do the latter, the boys have to do the former.
The Boy Behind the Door manages to pack a lot of trauma into its spry 88-minute running time. Unsurprisingly, it’s far more harrowing to watch fresh-faced children desperately trying to escape the inhuman clutches of an all too human captor than it is watching large-breasted young women being knifed (or chainsawed) by a masked killer. The film is arguably more of a thriller than straightforward horror, but it’s still unrelentingly horrifying. There’s a total absence of any subplot, leaving the action solely centred on the two boys and their plight, which doesn’t slow down for even the briefest respite. Would it have been too much for a character to take a few minutes to watch YouTube videos of puppies and kittens who are best friends?
Chavis and Dewey both have endearing screen presence, which is all the more impressive since they spend the vast majority of the runtime practically soiling themselves with fear. Co-directors David Charbonier and Justin Powell dish out the dread with confidence, even when the narrative ventures into full-on kidsploitation. There’s a decisive shift about halfway through The Boy Behind the Door, which risks giving proceedings a more conventional feeling, but it doesn’t lose any steam. In fact, Charbonier and Powell know how to make effective use of the occasional cliché, resulting in a lean and efficient movie that can be deliciously uncomfortable to watch.
The Boy Behind the Door is released on 29th July 2021.
Watch the trailer for The Boy Behind the Door here: