The Boy Behind the Door
by Hope Madden
Filmmakers David Charbonier and Justin Powell know how to do a lot with a little.
Earlier this year Shudder premiered their tightly packaged little horror story, The Djinn—very nearly a one-man, one-set show. Their latest to hit Shudder, The Boy Behind the Door, is slightly more expansive. A cast of about five knocks around one big, old farmhouse in the middle of an isolated, wooded area.
Two of those five are Bobby (Lonnie Chavis) and Kevin (Ezra Dewey, The Djinn), best friends who were kidnapped on their way to a little league game. Bobby wakes up in the trunk of a car without Kevin. He breaks free and makes his way clear of the house, but he can hear Kevin’s terrified cries and he circles back to try and save him.
The filmmakers leave it to Bobby’s sleuthing—and yours–to figure out what’s going on and how to end it. They make tremendous use of the hallways, floors and doors throughout their set, plus a well-placed wristwatch unnervingly ups the ante in a way the audience understands but Bobby does not.
There are times when the writing here hits too hard. I’m not sure the boys have to say they’ll always stick together quite so often; their actions speak to that. But the conundrums the filmmakers throw at Bobby as he tries to figure out what’s going on and how to get to his friend are believable.
More importantly, Chavis handles them with honest, childlike panic and courage. His performance would be enough to carry the film, but the adults around him offer supremely creepy turns.
Dewey’s less effective in this than he was in The Djinn, but it’s not enough to sink the film. The movie’s solid structure, paired with Charbonier and Powell’s gift for dropping clues and following up on threads make for a satisfying but never lurid horror show.