The Boy Behind the Door, The premise alone is terrifying: Two 12-year-old boys get kidnapped in broad daylight, tied up, and brought to a creepy, distant home. If you happen to’re a boy mother—as I’m, of a son across the similar age—which will simply be sufficient for you, and also you gained’t to know any extra about “The Boy Behind the Door.”
However, the debut characteristic from the writing-directing duo of David Charbonier and Justin Powell is so skillful, exact, and well-acted that you simply wish to give the movie an opportunity and keep it up, even by way of some deeply uncomfortable moments. And there are fairly a couple of of them. Charbonier and Powell accomplish lots with a bit, taking advantage of their low price range and single location and exploring each sq. foot of it for max pressure. They set up a foreboding temper early, and effectively inform us simply sufficient about these youngsters and their friendship to make the best way they combat for one another really feel not simply plausible however substantial.
In a flashback to 6 hours earlier than the kidnapping, Bobby (Lonnie Chavis of “The Water Man”) and Kevin (Ezra Dewey, star of the filmmakers’ follow-up “The Djinn”) reveal a simple, playful rapport as they stroll to their baseball recreation in matching green-and-white uniforms. They toss a ball backward and forwards and dream of fleeing their small city to go to California, promising they’ll be “pals to the top,” and it’s the sort of intense bond greatest friends share once they’re tweens, earlier than puberty hits and women develop into a distraction.
That is all we find out about them, but it surely’s sufficient. As a result of as soon as they discover themselves at risk, their loyalty to one another is what sees them by way of. At first, we don’t see who has taken them—we simply see Kevin being lifted from the trunk of an automobile, and Bobby being left behind to kick and scream by way of the duct tape masking his mouth. The intelligent child that he’s, although, Bobby finds a strategy to break away and run to security—solely to listen to Kevin’s screams echoing from an enormous brick home on the hill behind him. Time appears to have stood nonetheless on this place with its black-and-white TV set and rotary telephone, a few lonely pumpjacks groaning outdoors offering the one noise or motion for miles. (A “Make America Nice Once more” sticker on the again of a beat-up automobile is vaguely amusing however appears gratuitous, and it shakes us from the movie’s foggy temper.)
The majority of “The Boy Behind the Door” finds Bobby sneaking inside and—actually, fairly ceaselessly—hiding behind one door or one other as he skulks about, looking for his good friend whereas outwitting his captors. As day turns to nighttime and the creaky home grows darker, the administrators and cinematographer Julian Estrada use dramatic streaks of sunshine to light up ominous hallways and cramped quarters. In addition, they use silence successfully, prompting us to carry our breath similar to the children to keep away from being discovered. Chavis and Dewey are referred to as upon to take action a lot that’s bodily and emotionally difficult—they usually typically should do it alone, as a result of they’re separated for many of the movie—which makes their performances much more spectacular. These are clearly sturdy, sensible youngsters however they’re additionally delicate and candy, they usually take logical, affordable steps of their efforts to flee. This isn’t a kind of maddening horror motion picture during which the characters make needlessly dumb decisions to place themselves additionally in hurt’s manner.
And but, for each little bit of progress Bobby and Kevin make, there’s a setback, leading to a curler coaster of hope and frustration. Charbonier and Powell place the boys’ abduction inside a bigger context that’s deeply wicked and disturbing, but they discover appropriate thematic stability that avoids any sense of exploitation. (They do, nevertheless, steal one of the vital well-known photographs ever from one of many best horror motion pictures ever in a scene involving an ax and a restroom door.) And whereas “The Boy Behind the Door” runs out of steam a bit within the third act, it’s largely a good, well-paced thriller with terrific central performances from a few younger actors with vivid futures forward of them—as soon as they get out of right here, that’s.
Now enjoying on Shudder.