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'Boy Kills World' Review

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April 25, 2024
Tyler Banark
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Something is going on in Hollywood right now that should be discussed more, which is the rise of stuntpeople being promoted to the role of director. It’s been stunning in the John Wick films, Netflix’s Extraction series, and the films of David Leitch (Bullet Train and the fittingly titled upcoming The Fall Guy). There’s a gritty essence to each of these films, with action choreography that always goes above and beyond what’s been done before. While Boy Kills World director Moritz Mohr didn’t have the same upbringing as Leitch or Chad Stahelski, he lets his previous dabbling in special effects and editing allow him to pose in an adjacent camp.

Having witnessed the murder of his family and stripped of his ability to talk at a young age, Boy (physically played by Bill Skarsgård, voiced by H. Jon Benjamin) is found and raised by a mysterious shaman who trains him to be a lethal killing machine. Boy only has one goal in mind: kill the powerful Van Der Koy family, who prey on the weak and are responsible for his family’s death. Once a year, the family puts on a Hunger Games-esque show called The Culling where they hunt down twelve unlucky contestants.

“Graphic” would be an understated word to use to describe the nature of Boy Kills World. Mohr brings a chaotic absurdity akin to the Terrifier series, with blood and guts spraying out in a silly, sadistic manner. Call it stolen, call it made better, but there’s no denying that the action here delivers on its promise without tipping into overkill.

The vicious fight choreography is a sight to behold, with its influences from the John Wick films and various forms of martial arts unlocking an arsenal for Boy to play with. Whether it’s a necklace or a cheese grater, the impromptu use of such regular everyday items as weapons in hand-to-hand combat effectively adds to the film’s overall intensity. There is a sense of having been there, done that, such as the use of the cheese grater in last year’s Evil Dead Rise. But if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Skarsgård is the centerpiece as Boy, cementing himself as an action star without uttering a single word. He does the (literal) heavy lifting, while Benjamin expresses his inner monologue in a mostly humorous fashion. We’ll have a full sample of Skarsgård’s action chops once this year’s reboot of The Crow comes out.

The rest of the cast is fairly underutilized, something not wholly unexpected considering the marquee positioning of Boy as our protagonist. But much of the satisfaction in the revenge against the Van Der Koys has to come from the characters, who just don’t meet the grade. Brett Gelman is in his usual showmanship mood as the weird member of the family, Michelle Dockery’s girl boss of a sister is a knockoff of Shiv Roy, and Famke Janssen kind of phones it in as the tyrannical matriarch, Hilda. There’s also June 27 (yes, that’s the character’s actual name), played by Jessica Rothe, who acts as both the family enforcer and voice of reason. There are attempts to have her bridge the gap between Boy and the family, but the script co-written by Tyler Burton Smith and Arend Remmers (with a story credit to Mohr) can’t make the connection.

The tasteless (in a good way) action set pieces are at the forefront of Boy Kills World, but that lack of a coherent substantive drive doesn’t make it the cult classic it so desperately wants to be (as evidenced by the film’s world premiere as part of the Midnight Madness section at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival). But even if this doesn’t get etched into history, there’s still a lot of fun to be had in the present with it.

You can follow Tyler and hear more of his thoughts on Twitter, Instagram, and Letterboxd.

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