A killer isn’t born, a killer is made. Or so goes the phrase. If my hours spent to tuning in to “The Last Podcast on the Left” has taught me anything, it’s that the vast majority of serial killers come from deeply troubled homes. This is surely the case for Lizzie Borden. One of the most notorious female killers in history, the well-to-do Borden came from a respectable lineage, one of both prestige and prosperity. In Lizzie, the crumbs for a double homicide are laid inside a household that stewed dark impulses and nasty internal affairs. Read More
*This is a reprint of our SXSW 2015 review.
Ted (Jared Breeze) is a serial killer in the making. He’s only nine years old but all the warning signs are there in Craig William Macneill’s slow burning but explosively rewarding motion picture. Like the great unmade redneck prequel to The Good Son, The Boy shows the quiet transformation of ennui to psychosis as an immeasurably bored towhead graduates from coaxing animals to their death to killing them outright before finally setting his sights on his own genus and gene pool. Read More
Ted (Jared Breeze) is a serial killer in the making. He’s only nine years old but all the warning signs are there in Craig William Macneill’s slow burning but explosively rewarding The Boy. Like the great unmade redneck prequel to The Good Son, The Boy shows the quiet transformation of ennui to psychosis as an immeasurably bored towhead graduates from coaxing animals to their death to killing them outright before finally setting his sights on his own genus and gene pool.
At first, Ted’s to-be murderous ways are red flag worthy but aren’t necessarily of the abandon all hope variety. You see, his hollow-eyed father John (David Morse) rewards Ted with a shiny quarter each time he scraps up a new piece of roadkill. I guess a dilapidated highway motel only stands to gain from less roadkill polluting their doorstep but it’s a grim job for any father to assign a son and is representative of the hands-off approach John has adopted towards his boy. In his notebook, Ted records each and every find – a “sqirl” on 5/14, maybe a “rebet” on 5/22 – and is nickel and diming his way towards a one-way Greyhound ticket to Florida, where his mother had run off to with a trucker years back.
Discouraged by a relative lack of progress, Ted glances at his pet rabbit and then out at the highway. Don’t do it, we plead and, thankfully, he doesn’t. But that doesn’t mean his thirst for mullah and, more distressingly, blood is satiated. By dumping trash and millet in the sparsely traveled highway outside his family’s all-but-abandoned motel, Ted realizes that he can spring a fairly effective and super duper redneck trap for the unsuspecting woodland creatures.
When Ted notes a deer ambling around his property, he dashes to the feedback and piles grain high in the road. As the sun is blotted out by an inky mass of night, a thunderous crash echoes across the motel. Ted dashes out to find William (Rainn Wilson), his car crumpled and scrapped, and his animal target, eviscerated in the road.
As Ted continues to up the ante of what he is willing to do – a family staying at the lodge by necessity almost finds out the hard way that Ted doesn’t play well with other children – we get a taste of true madness, regardless of the seemingly innocent vessel that is Ted Henley. Macniell plays with the idea of how sociopathic/psychopathic tendencies are incubated and exacerbated with his script (co-written by novelist Clay McLeod Chapman) providing feasible insight into how emotional neglect and wholesale boredom can drive people to some pretty terrifying lengths.
Sparsely dominated by scenes of heavy exposition – or rather any dialogue at all – Macniell is able to catch the quiet moments; the death stares, the purposeless shambling, the looks of silence. Clean, lumbering sound design operates to keep us invested in The Boy‘s emotionscape and its overarching feeling of dread. When it all comes full circle and Ted readies himself to emerge from his dark chrysalis, affairs take a middle ground stance between Hesher and Carrie and we are witness to a gorgeously haunting transformation of soul.