On their way home from baseball practice, two young boys are abducted and decide to fight back in this tense horror from directing duo David Charbonier and Justin Powell.
While uncomfortable to watch, putting kids in danger as the main thrust of any horror is always a winner. Its one of the reasons why IT became so popular as you already have the main characters on the side of the audience who demand that they survive at all costs.
While there is no Pennywise in sight, there is still a monster on the prowl in David Charbonier and Justin Powell’s effective thriller and while it does not live in the sewers, ready to offer a red balloon and pounce on its prey, the creature on show is more grounded and believable and will have you screaming at the TV for it to be stopped.
Inseparable 12 year old best friends Bobby (Lonnie Chavis) and Kevin (Ezra Dewey) are living a care free life, dreaming of their future and enjoying some baseball practice when they are suddenly abducted and thrown into the boot of a car. Kevin is the first to be moved from his best friend and its from here that the story follows Bobby as he manages to escape from the parked car and yet instead of running to get help, remembers the “friends Pact” he made with his friend and decides there and then to fight back and rescue Kevin from the pits of the spooky old creaky house that just happens to be in the middle of nowhere.
What follows is a classic game of cat and mouse in which Bobby tries desperately to remain undetected as he tip toes around the house, while the kidnapper attempts to find the one kid who is not chained in the basement. Its the opening half that the film is at its strongest with the tension creaked up to the max and offering some delightful surprises to a familiar plot.
Its when one obstacle is moved out of the way only for another to show up that the film starts to feel repetitive on its approach as its only so many times we can see the same scene of a young boy running around while the kidnapper hides in the shadows.
That’s not to say that when it works, The Boy Behind the Door is an effective thriller helped massively thanks to the friendship between the two boys. There are sinister undertones at play in which the directing duo never really and thankfully elaborate on, leaving the motives of the kidnappers to the viewer’s imagination and both Kristin Bauer van Straten and Micah Hauptman, handle the the bogeymen roles with aplomb.
The bizarre influence of The Shining of all things is an oddity with the particular two scenes brazenly becoming more of a distraction than a downright homage and by the time we reach the climatic finale, some logic goes all out of the window but with a lean mean running time, both Charbonier and Powell deliver a tense hour and a half with the added bonus that they have dipped each frame of this ridiculously good looking film into a claustrophobic veil of air that will have you choking as you root for these boys to survive their plight.
It may not offer anything new to an established formula, but when it work, it really files and while in lesser hands, this could have easily been a grim and morbid tale, the directing duo have pulled off a kidnapping coup, helped by the strong leads and some moments that will have your pulse pounding.
What more can you ask for?
The Boy Behind the Door is now available on SHUDDER