Rife with nail-biting tension, Lonnie Chavis and Ezra Dewey are phenomenal in The Boy Behind The Door. With a simple story done exceptionally well, directors David Charbonier and Justin Powell have created a wonderful thriller.
A night of unimaginable terror awaits twelve-year-old Bobby (Lonnie Chavis) and his best friend, Kevin (Ezra Dewey), when they are abducted on their way home from school. Managing to escape his confines, Bobby navigates the dark halls, praying his presence goes unnoticed as he avoids his captor at every turn. Even worse is the arrival of another stranger, whose mysterious arrangement with the kidnapper may spell certain doom for Kevin. With no means of calling for help and miles of dark country in every direction, Bobby embarks on a rescue mission, determined to get himself and Kevin out alive… or die trying.
What is so strikingly bold about The Boy Behind The Door is that it is able to hinge such drama and tension on the shoulders of such a young talent in Lonnie Chavis. This unrelenting tale of two boys trying to get away from a night of hell is unexpectedly horrific. It could very well be that this is due to the ages of our leads, but this is a mean film that does its best to take zero prisoners. So as Bobby wonders through this cat and mouse game in the secluded house, you will be biting on those nails.
The constant sense of dread that fills the film works on you so well, and without the need for a long build-up, we are given a precious few moments with our young duo before hell descends upon them, and it works effortlessly. Getting just enough information to grasp what kind of characters and, more importantly, how close they let us know that they will fight for one another, and other than that, we don’t need that much more in their characters. Their arcs throughout The Boy Behind The Door feeds us more about them than any long-winded.
A downside to the film is some of the adult character choices throughout, simpler the characters should make more sensible decisions. Add in one scene that just distracts you by how unlikely it is, and we have a couple of narrative issues. Still, with Charbonier and Powell at times backing themselves into a corner, some creative luxuries were taken. Happily, these moments don’t fully remove you from the feature, but they do hurt its chances of grabbing you as effectively as it would like.
As said, Lonnie Chavis and Ezra Dewey are on another level here, and it is very clever of the filmmakers to lean on the younger side to our protagonists. This type of film is usually reserved for high school characters, so our fear levels rise to a terrifying level by going younger. How can two young boys escape this? The two leads take all of their quite physical moments in their stride. Please make no mistake about it; these are two hard performances to excel at, and with Chavis playing the frightened, determined Bobby. With Dewey, he has the difficult task of portraying the emotionally drained Kevin. Chavis is the standout due to the amount of work he has to do, and like both of the boys, you get as drained as they do by that finale.
The sound design and sound mixing here in The Boy Behind The Door from Johannes Hammers and Chris Omae work so well, the creaks, the heartbeat instead of a score. By pulling the score back a little, we can be as consumed as possible with Bobby and Kevin’s attempts to escape. Paced perfectly, we are given the right amount of time to take a breather as we and our characters get their breaths back. However, as soon as that breath is back, Charbonier and Powell swipe it from you with aggressive glee.
The Boy Behind The Door leaves you exhausted, yet, you will know you have watched one hell of a memorable film—a thriller to latch onto and just let it take you on quite the ride.
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