By Ben Winkley

Kids. Awful things. Who needs ’em? If they’re not filling up the bus with their noise their parents are flooding your facebook with their oh-so-endearing antics. Kids in films? Even worse. Cutesy accesories or appaling brats, either they’re being scooped up from in front of an alien war machine by Tom Cruise or they’re seeing dead people.
Every now and again though, there’s one that’s worth spending some time with, and this year that one is The Boy.
Not that this extension of director Craig William Macniell’s 2011 short Henley is easy going. It takes its sweet time, in fact, to come to a point, but the outcome is well worth sticking around for.
The titular Boy, Ted, played by the fantastically natural Jared Breeze, is your average troubled nine year old. He lives a solitary existence in his father’s isolated, tatty motel. Dad, a laconic David Morse, is slowly fading away in a fug of regret and hard liquor, knowing full well that no-one will miss him when he’s gone. Mum long ago had enough and hitched out with a trucker who stayed the night in room five.
Ted barely remembers her, but knows she’s in Florida and he’s squirreling away the money dad gives him for scraping squirrels off the road. At 25 cents a pop, he’s a lot of roadkill from the $60 it will cost to Greyhound his way down to the Keys.
Apart from dad, Ted’s only relationships are peripatetic – people come and go at the motel, and only then on the rare good days. A lost family stay a couple of nights longer than they hoped, with their own son. A heavily bearded Rainn Wilson turns up, bearing a heavy secret.
The visitors intrigue, impress but ultimately frustrate Ted. His mood darkens as the guests come and go; Dad either doesn’t notice, or doesn’t care, that the fuit of his loins is a ticking timebomb.
In its quiet way, The Boy asks how much distance there is between the childhood curiosity of squashing snails or burning ants, and a move into something muh more disturbing. So slow at times as to be stately, The Boy builds to a fantastic climax that is, dramatically, at once totally out of kilter with what has gone before and completely in keeping.
See it, then book a vasectomy.

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