The Boy Behind the Door (2020)
Directed by: David Charbonier, Justin Powell | 88 minutes | thriller, horror | Actors: Lonnie Chavis, Ezra Dewey, Kristin Bauer van Straten, Scott Michael Foster, Micah Hauptman, Rich Ceraulo Ko, Anna B. Shaffer, Alfredo Tavares
On their way to their Little League game (youth baseball for those unfamiliar with American sports), twelve-year-old Bobby and his best friend Kevin practice some throws in the woods. Kevin goes looking for a lost ball, but doesn’t come back. Bobby goes to see where his comrade is and wakes up in the trunk of a car, next to an ominous house in no man’s land. He manages to escape and wants to go get help when a horrifying cry for help suddenly sounds from the dingy basement of the house. Bobby decides to free Kevin himself and embarks on a rescue mission in the dark house. But he is not alone…
The horror in ‘The Boy Behind the Door’ is not in the paranormal, but in the everyday. Significantly, “America’s national pastime,” as baseball is often described in the United States, is not a beacon of childish innocence here, but the beginning of a horrific ordeal. Gradually, ‘The Boy Behind the Door’ changes into a cat and mouse game in which the line between prey and victim gradually blurs. Think of a morbid version of ‘Home Alone’ squared.
The theme of comradeship, pure friendship that is characteristic of the phase of life in which the problems, worries and often mind-numbing worries of the adult everyday have no grip on your existence, plays a central role in this film and has similarities with the works of Stephen King. The spirit of ‘It’ in particular shines through prominently in the story at times. Only the children in ‘The Boy Behind the Door’ have to deal with all-too-human monsters of flesh and blood instead of a supernatural apparition that usually manifests itself as a diabolical horror clown.
The young main protagonists deliver a decent performance and, unlike most ‘victims’ in thrillers and horror films, mainly make sensible and well-reasoned decisions. A downside is that the makers sometimes borrow (too) blatantly from better genre gems like ‘The Shining’ and ‘Don’t Breathe’. This does not alter the fact that ‘The Boy Behind the Door’ is a pretty tight, well dosed and at times intense thriller with some solid horror elements.