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The Boy Behind the Door Delivers Masterful Horror Pacing With Heart
Cass Clarke
2021-07-30T22:16:36
Co-written and directed by David Charbonier and Justin Powell, The Boy Behind the Door is a thrillingly paced and heartfelt tale that'll surely charm horror buffs -- especially ones who love carefully plotted abduction tales. The film's premise is simple: Two young boys are kidnapped on their way home from school by a stranger and held captive. While that might sound like a familiar cat-and-mouse game plot, what truly sets this story apart from similar ones is its unwavering focus on the friendship between Bobby (Lonnie Chavis) and Kevin (Ezra Dewey).
The Boy Behind the Door begs to ask, How far would you go to protect your friend? Would you face a The Shining-inspired woman chasing you with an ax? Bobby and Kevin certainly would. The boys are determined to sacrifice any slim chance at their survival to save each other. It's easy to root for Bobby and Kevin as deep down we'd all like to imagine we would go to such extreme lengths to protect ones we love and that that same level of commitment would be returned.
Despite its sparse dialogue and staying within one set-piece -- a strange house with a-many locked doors and secrets -- for most of its 90-minute runtime, viewers won't want to look away from the screen out of sheer fear of what could happen to these loving boys. However, the film knows it can't just ride on the anchor of their relationship to inherently create enough suspense. Given the simplicity of the story, it'd be easy for audiences to fall into a lull if not enough tension is created or sustained. Of course, the film uses moments of gore to capture viewers' attention; but, it's truly the film's meticulous attention to the boys' escape plan that makes The Boy Behind the Door work. A key is never found without reason. A weapon will always return.
At the start of the film, one of the boys frees himself and makes the harrowing choice to stick out this murder house situation and find his friend. However, he's still a young boy who is terrified and doesn't know what is going on beyond that he and his best friend are in danger. While he searches the house, plenty of complications arise, ranging from face-off fights with the kidnappers to trying to figure out how to work a rotary phone to call 911. The thrill arrives in watching the character fumble and asking, What else can get in the way of their escape?
However, the creators are aware of how this too could become tiresome and introduces a surprise third-act character that is relentlessly violent and cruel. When Kristin Bauer van Straten's character fully emerges on-screen, it'll remind True Blood fans exactly why she was cast as the indomitable Pam De Beaufort and is clearly reveling in the action-packed role.
In a cast of five, Chavis and Dewey are tasked with captivating viewers for the majority of The Boy Behind the Door -- and they prove that they're more than up for the challenge. While, at times, their screams can seem a bit off -- particularly after a humbling performance of earnest tears -- the duo is able to convey the kind of intensity and fear that put them in the ranks of Stranger Things' core cast in Season 1. What will ultimately win over hearts is the pair's authentic and genuine care for each other, bringing to mind the kind of childhood nostalgia of Stand By Me with much, much harsher stakes at play. Even children aren't safe from being attacked in horror but the film handles what bloodshed it does bring with utmost care and purpose.
The Boy Behind the Door is now streaming exclusively on Shudder.
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