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The Boy Behind the Door film review


Directed by: David Charbonier, Justin Powell

Written by: David Charbonier, Justin Powell

Starring: Lonnie Chavis, Ezra Dewey, Micah Hauptman

Shudder Film Review by: Chris Olson


The Boy Behind the Door (2020) Film Review

The Boy Behind the Door film review
The Boy Behind the Door film review

David Charbonier and Justin Powell’s powerful tale of friendship within a hostage thriller setting is a refreshing take on a heavy genre (Room, Prisoners etc). Placing all their confidence on two child actors (Lonnie Chavis and Ezra Dewey), The Boy Behind the Door is a simple but highly effective horror, playing with strong fundamentals.

After a game of catch in the woods finds them snatched, conked, and stuffed in the boot of a car, best friends Bobby (Chavis) and Kevin (Dewey) are the victims of a despicable child sex outfit where the latter becomes the titular boy behind the locked door - where patrons pay for their time in the room with him. Still in the boot, Bobby manages to bash his way out and goes in search of freedom. However, after hearing his friend’s cries for help in the isolated room, Bobby returns to try and save him from this house of horrors despite his obvious terror.

Leaning on a minor to do so much of the heavy lifting was a gamble, but one that pays off for the filmmakers in The Boy Behind the Door. Lonnie Chavis is able to convey the powerful range of emotions required of his character with impressive skill, and tackles the physical demands excellently too. His struggle is kind of a Home Alone reversal (without the laughs and Christmas cheer) but with bucket loads of tension. He tiptoes around the house attempting to find a key that will open the darn door but to little avail.

Expertly paced, vamping into a gut-churning final third, The Boy Behind the Door is smartly tuned horror. The central exploration around the fight or flight reaction is the heart of the story and one that beautifully captures the heroism of Bobby and keeps the viewer emotionally invested in the story throughout. His actions on a grownup may have seemed insincere and unbelievable, but on a young lad they seem genuine and heartbreaking.

The filmmakers utilise limited locations well, keeping the audience as prisoners as well as the characters. This sense of being in the middle of nowhere heightens the peril and enhances the vulnerability of the boys - who don’t have phones. By playing on a classic theme of being snatched whilst out playing, the story is able to hark back to genre films whereby the victims couldn’t just rely on modern technology. There is a wonderful moment where the friends try to work out how to use a rotary dial phone, “There’s no plug!”.

Aside from some questionable dialogue from the villain and some repetitive sequences, The Boy Behind the Door unlocks an impressive amount of horror stylings and classic storytelling, rooting the viewer in a state of inertia and breathtaking tension.

The Boy Behind The Door is available on Shudder from July 29th.



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