There’s no such thing as an objective review, but I don’t know another way to differentiate my thoughts on the new Shudder exclusive The Boy Behind the Door. I can watch this film and see how well executed it is. The performances are uniformly excellent, the direction is super tight, great, crystal clear cinematography, and yeah: it is scary as HELL. Subjectively? Every minute of this movie churned in my gut, and I’ll be happy to never think of it again. There is content I never need to see, and child abduction is simply one of those things.
THE QUICK SUMMARY: Kevin and Bobby are best friends, at that magical age where friendship means everything and girls aren’t yet on the horizon. Walking home from a baseball game in the woods they’re abducted, thrown into the trunk of car. Arriving at a solitary house the trunk is popped and Kevin is take inside, leaving Bobby locked in. He manages to escape but the screams coming from inside the house stop him. Friends to the end, Bobby creeps back to the house to save Kevin from the monsters who took him. It’s a deadly game of cat and mouse as the boys try to get away from an all too real threat.
Every moment of The Boy Behind the Door is filled with tension and dread. Writing/directing team David Charbonier and Justin Powell have done a fantastic job in what is essentially a one-location film exploring every crevice of the house, and really maximizing the silence in the sound design to keep you just as frantic as the boys. The are clever moments like a timer on a watch an old television set that are use to ratchet things up at key moments, and overall there’s no denying just how effective this film is at what it meant to do.
The real secret weapon of the film though are the performances of Ezra Dewey and Lonnie Chavis as Kevin and Bobby. Holy crap these kids are the real deal, utterly believable both in the short time they have to cement their friendship and as they navigate the terrors of the predators in the house. Chavis as Bobby has most of the heavy lifting here as he’s the one who comes back for Kevin, but Charbonier and Powell don’t leave Kevin as simply the goal of the film; they provide enough sequences for Dewey to really sell his predicament and feel like an essential part of the film.
Knowing all of that, I’m usually looking for some sort of escape from reality with my horror, and having to see something all too terrifying in my own life as the father of a young son executed with this level of precision is 100% not what I’m looking for when I watch a movie. But I can’t deny how powerful and effective The Boy Behind the Door is, so if you can stomach the premise and content, you’re in for an incredibly effective slide of horror.