The Boy Behind the Door (2021) Awes with Child Abduction Horror
Title: The Boy Behind the Door
First Non-Festival Release: July 29, 2021 (Digital/Streaming Platforms)
Director: David Charbonier, Justin Powell
Writer: David Charbonier, Justin Powell
Runtime: 88 Minutes
Starring: Lonnie Chavis, Ezra Dewey, Micah Hauptman, Kristin Bauer van Straten
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Bobby (Lonnie Chavis) and Kevin (Ezra Dewey) are on their way to a baseball game when they are abducted by an unknown attacker and thrown in the back of a car. Once they reach their destination, Kevin is dragged into a house while Bobby is left alone in the trunk. Bobby manages to escape from the vehicle and is only a few steps towards freedom before he turns and hears Kevin screaming from the house. In that moment, Bobby decides he will not leave Kevin and makes his way back hoping that he’s able to save his friend, and himself, from awaits inside.
A tense and thrilling abduction movie, The Boy Behind the Door impresses with masterclass direction and understanding of the subgenre.
Tight direction and impressive set design elevate The Boy Behind the Door beyond typical kidnapped horror fare. For most of the first half, the audience is left questioning what exactly is going on in the house. Shots linger for tantalizing stretches of time, leaving the audience digging into their fists with anticipation. Once everything is revealed, the tension dissipates ever so slightly, and the film becomes much more predictable, yet still enjoyable. Featuring an expansive set, we are treated to some incredible moments that mix in enough throwbacks and original ideas to prove director/writer duo’s, David Charbonier and Justin Powell, love of the genre.
Lonnie Chavis and Ezra Dewey give fantastic performances. Chavis anchors Bobby as a determined and resourceful kid that is dead set on saving his best friend. He is tasked with handling the bulk of the film’s more intense sequences and he does it with strength. Playing Bobby with grit and compassion, Chavis makes it so easy to cheer him on facing every kid’s worst nightmare. Furthermore, he gets the opportunity to show a wider range of emotion that his friend locked in the room. Bobby is put through the ringer and comes out stronger on the other side, which is great to see in both a narrative and personal sense.
Conversely, Dewey holds more of the emotional weight of the film. Locked behind a door, chained to the floor, and ensnared by a shock collar, Kevin’s journey is more static than Bobby’s. Thankfully, Dewey handles the task with grace and support, as the tables turn, and he gets the chance to support his friend more near the end. Their friendship is the crux of The Boy Behind the Door and makes for a more invested watch.
Naysayers will shout their detractions at the decisions these young boys make, but at the end of the day, children making unwise decisions in the face of peril is one of the most realistic things a film can do. Sure, neither Bobby nor Kevin makes the perfect decisions in this film. They are also young boys who have been put through the trauma of being kidnapped. Their brains are not exactly working as sharply as they would in any normal setting. It can be contested that some decisions verge on the absurd, but so long as their decisions fall in line with their characters it isn’t fair to call them unrealistic.
It’s easy to make a film about kidnapping children horrific, but it’s hard to maintain that intensity and terror. The Boy Behind the Door does a fantastic job of sustaining the unbearable tension of real-life horrors that are committed every day. With every solution found, three more problems arise making the situation impossibly unnerving. Capable young actors and enough movement within the large hillside house makes The Boy Behind the Door a riveting endurance test. Fans of more grounded horror and intimate casts will rejoice in how well put together this film is and what it offers in sheer entertainment value. Check out The Boy Behind the Door and find yourself taken by its sheer thrills.
Overall Score? 7/10