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Boy Kills World Review

April 26, 2024 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Boy Kills World Bill Skarsgaard Image Credit: Roadside Attractions
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Boy Kills World Review  

Directed By: Moritz Mohr
Written By: Tyler Burton Smith, Arend Remmers, and Moritz Mohr
Runtime: 111 minutes
MPA Rating: R for strong bloody violence and gore throughout, language, some drug use, and sexual references.

Bill Skarsgård – Boy
Famke Jannsen – Hilda Van Der Koy
Jessica Rothe – June 27
Michelle Dockery – Melanie Van Der Koy
Bret Gelman – Glen Van Der Koy
Yayan Ruhian – Shaman
Andrew Koji – Basho
Isaiah Mustafa – Benny
Sharlto Copley – Gideon Van Der Koy
Quinn Copeland – Mina
Cameron Crovetti – Young Boy
H. Jon Benjamin – Voice of “Boy”

Bill Skarsgård goes on a blood-soaked journey of revenge in the unique action romp, Boy Kills World. While the film’s experience is not without its narrative flaws, director Moritz Mohr provides a decent comedic edge and wit to the bloody revenge tale with an imaginative video game-infused style.

Skarsgård portrays the titular “Boy,” a deaf-mute who has been training since childhood to take revenge on the Van Der Koy family. The Van Der Koys rule over what’s left of the film’s post-apocalyptic civilization with an iron fist, forcing innocent civilians to take part in a brutal, ritualized battle royal called “The Culling.” The family’s media mogul mastermind, Melanie Van Der Koy (Dockery), broadcasts the event for ratings and sponsorship profits.

Apparently, the Boy survived his own family who were executed by the Van Der Koys because they took part in the resistance movement. Unfortunately, the ordeal left the Boy deaf and mute. Boy then begins training with the mysterious Shaman (Ruhian) to become a living weapon and take action against the Van Der Koys and their ruthless figurehead, Hilda (Jannsen). Guided by the bickering childhood spirit of his little sister, Mina (Copeland), Boy now seeks to take out all the Van Der Koys and take his righteous revenge.

Most of the film falls on the shoulders of Skarsgård, who stretches his performance muscles with his unique performance, portraying a hearing and verbally impaired character. Boy only technically “speaks” through a first-person narrative voice-over provided by H. Jon Benjamin, inspired by the voice-over from his favorite arcade game. Skarsgård turns those potential drawbacks into strengths, providing a physically charismatic and relatable performance. Also, Benjamin’s voice-over offers a witty edge as a narrative method to externalize Boy’s inner monologue.

Skarsgård asserts himself well as an action lead, delivering a very physical, using his body language and presence over dialogue. Thanks to the film’s stunt choreography, it looks like he’s performing a good deal of the action and fight scenes throughout the film. The film playfully toys with Boy’s hearing impairment. When Boy speaks to a character with a dialect or language he doesn’t understand, their words come out sounding like gibberish, which Boy attempts to work around in an awkward manner. It’s rare that movies such as this have a main character who is hearing impaired, let alone mute, so the narrative of Boy Kills World still proves effective with an impaired protagonist.

Boy Kills World also works as an energetic action film, mixing up various styles and fight scenes throughout the film. Mohr brings a heightened, exaggerated video game edge to the action sequences, which complements how the narrative unfolds from Boy’s wild imagination. Although Boy endured the Shaman’s harsh training since childhood, a part of him never really grew up. It’s as if Boy is trying to grasp onto the few remaining happy childhood memories. The action scenes are relatively well shot, but they do get overly chaotic at times.

The film displays a unique twist in the second half that is set up and foreshadowed nicely early on. Boy Kills World succeeds by not telegraphing the ending, but still offering enough clues that hint at the eventual reveal. Screenwriters Tyler Burton Smith and Arend Remmers competently handle the major turning points. As a result, the final twist is solidly executed, and it’s not an exercise in frustration.

The plot lacks in establishing the Van Der Koys and the relatively indistinct post-apocalyptic setting. The setting and world-building lack proper setup and context. The only competent threat among the despotic family is June 27 (Rothe), who proves to be more than a physical match against Boy. June 27 provides a unique, dynamic presence throughout the film, wearing a digital LED helmet that flashes text and various images, and she acts as a brutal enforcer to the family. She looks like she stepped out of an anime or manga series and becomes fully realized in live-action. June 27’s reveal is among the more compelling payoffs in the story. There are only a few hints about the circumstances that led to the world’s current state and how the Ver Der Koys managed to assert their despotic power.

Boy Kills World wears its influences on its sleeves. It’s not an all-time action sensation, but it provides decent entertainment, blood-soaked action, and a darkly comedic edge for a little under two hours.

The final score: review Good
The 411
Boy Kills World works as a fun, post-modern action revenge tale. Bill Skarsgård proves to be a dynamic lead, and the film works well despite Skarsgård portraying a deaf and mute character. Filmmaker Moritz Mohr presents a solid vision in his feature directorial debut. He incorporates a darkly comedic energy and a video game-inspired style into the action that works well. However, the villains and world-building are lacking. Boy Kills World is worth a look for a weekend matinee or a night in at home when it hits streaming.