Directed by: Craig William Macneill
Nine year old Ted (Breeze) lives a strange life, for a boy. On his own much of the time, Ted and his father John (Morse) live alone in what John refers to as a “Dead motel”. Placed on a hillside along a stretch of highway that sees little to no traffic, the desolate area gives Ted little to do. Not helping matters is John’s depressed attitude about his failing business and his habit of ignoring Ted to drink in front of the tv. Well Idle hands become the devil’s playthings, when Ted starts channeling his boredom, and anger at being abandoned by his mother, into luring unsuspecting wildlife into the highway and to their death.
When William (Wilson) a traveling stranger crashes his car into one of Ted’s victims, Ted begins bonding with him. William has dark secrets of his own though, and soon his relationship with Ted begins bringing out the darker, more violent tendencies of the boy. Slowly but surely the apathy and anger grow in Ted until the death of small animals isn’t enough.
I won’t go any further into the plot, because to do so would damage the eerie tension that I enjoyed so much while watching Craig William Macneill’s masterful debut feature film. He and cinematographer Noah Greenberg create an ominous world in which there is no happiness for Ted, or companionship and because of his loneliness he turns towards humanity’s base instinct of anger and violence. The cast all are terrific. Morse plays the downtrodden father perfectly, and Rainn Wilson really surprised me in a role that is dark, mysterious, and a far cry from his character on “The Office”. His performance here reminded me of Jim Carrey’s in “Eternal Sunshine”. Not that they are similar in tone, but that they both are incredibly dark roles for largely comedic actors and both were perfect.
The absolute star though has to be Jared Breeze. I was blown away by his ability to play such a complex character so well. With sparse dialogue, he uses slight facial expressions and ticks to convey his underlying fury, and he does so like a seasoned actor at the top of his game. This, to me, feels like one of those “Natalie Portman in ‘The Professional'” type roles, where we are seeing the birth of a star.
Really, I was impressed by every facet of “The Boy”. I would place it firmly among the best films I have seen in 2015. I can’t wait to see what both Mr. Macneill and Mr. Breeze do next.