There are a couple of films I watched last year at festivals, and loved, but never put up a review. Well, I am so glad to announce that THE BOY BEHIND THE DOOR has been released and premiered last Thursday July 29 on Shudder.
A true to life horror story, the film chronicles two friends Bobby (Lonnie Chavis, This is Us and The Water Man) and Kevin (Ezra Dewey, The Djinn and Criminal Minds) who are kidnapped and their attempt to escape the clutches of their captors.
A remarkable fact related to this movie is that Chavis was attacked by two would be kidnappers back in 2016. Thankfully he escaped, but it’s heartbreaking to state that the 2020 statistic for missing children in the US is 365,348 and according to UNICEF USA, “Of the more than 23,500 runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 2018, 1 in 7 were likely victims of child sex trafficking.”
Working in the social work field, and being very familiar with these statistics, this film and its premise by up-and-coming writer/directors David Charbonier and Justin Powell was simply terrifying to me, but completely watchable – as the directors sensitively depict the boys’ dilemma without turning the movie into trauma porn.
And it’s equally horrifying that the film is from a child-centered perspective – with the audience rarely seeing the faces of the adults involved.
Primarily shot in the kidnapper’s home, with dark and shadowy frames that intensify the setting, the movie leaves you captivated while you cheer for the protagonists to overcome their desperate plight.
And both Chavis and Dewey do an excellent job carrying the film, especially Chavis who I am listing as one to keep an eye on after his solid turn in “The Water Man,” not to mention his work as pre-teen Randall on the series “This is Us.”
There’s also a haunting score that bumps up the chill factor, and a really dynamic twist that most viewers won’t see coming nor expect.
Standing at a firm 96% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, I completely agree with the overall critical consensus and highly recommend giving this one a watch.
It’s not standard slasher, monster, or supernatural fare – so many genre lovers may not get all the thrills they seek – but oft times real life is in fact scarier and I believe this movie mostly delivers.
The setting is simple, the casting is small (with dynamic performances), but the story takes you on one thrilling ride.
And, even though the underlying themes of abuse and assault are cautiously told, I will still give a trigger warning for sexual assault and/or kidnapping survivors.
I rate the film 3.5 out of 5 on the MMTrometer.
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Until next thought, Thomasena