By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
When it comes to Fantastic Fest thrillers, this movie has just about everything one would want from this type of movie. This has harrowing action, tight, nail-biting action, visceral violence, and of course blood and gore. In addition to this lovable qualities, The Boy Behind The Door has lots of heart and two amazing protagonists portrayed by two tremendous child actors. At the conclusion of this movie I certainly had mixed feelings. On one hand, I enjoyed the absolute crap out of this flick, but on the other hand, I wish I had been able to experience it with a live Fantastic Fest audience with box of hot, buttery popcorn. And that’s the type of movie The Boy Behind The Door is–a popcorn-chomping thrill ride of tension, suspense, violence, villainy and heroics.
Lonnie Chavis and Ezra Dewey star as Bobby and Kevin, two best friends who will always have each other’s backs no matter what. On one fateful day, Bobby and Kevin get attacked by an unknown assailant and abducted to an unfamiliar and remote location. After regaining consciousness, Bobby finds himself locked in the trunk of a car. As he begins to have trouble breathing, Bobby escapes through sheer will. However, there is no way the brave and strong young man is leaving his buddy behind. He begins scouring the house where he and Kevin are being held. Though only about ten or eleven, Bobby decides to take on their larger and more intimidating adult captors, so that he and Kevin can escape once and for all.
Written and directed by David Charbonier and Justin Powell, The Boy Behind The Door is definitely the most exciting film of the festival. I literally sat at home glued to the edge of my seat, chewing off my nails, and screaming and yelling at my screen. It was in those moments that I really longed for the communal experience of the real Fantastic Fest screening. The movie is simply one of those flicks that gets those primal reactions from the audience through superbly conceived and executed shock and awe. Both Charbonier and Powell utilize impecable pacing in delivering the peaks and valleys of their thrill ride. For the most part, the plot is a run-of-the mill escape flick, but with a very youthful twist.
And this youthful twist gets pulled off beautifully by the extraordinary performances by Lonnie Chavis and Ezra Dewey. Both actors bring very different qualities to their roles, but play them outstandingly Lonnie may be only ten or eleven, but this kid channels an inner, hardcore badass. Though outgunned and oversized by his captors, Chavis delivers all-or-nothing courage and tenacity through his character. Ezra Dewey exudes emotional fright, but a different courage of his own as Kevin. Though he mostly plays the role of a frightened victim, he confidently gets more aggressive when the scene calls for it.
I could get into more details about the villains in this movie, but I’d rather leave that as a surprise. I fear that I may have already said too much, anyway. Simply, take my word for it, The Boy Behind The Door (despite this generic uninteresting title) is an absolute blast. And don’t make the same mistake I did the first time I watched it. If it is safe to do so watch with a small group of people, and feast on some popcorn while watching it.