"Boy Kills World" is a cheeky, ultra-violent patience-killer

Boy Kills World (2024)

If "Pulp Fiction" spawned a bunch of edgy Tarantino knockoffs in the ‘90s, perhaps the "Deadpool" movies are partially to blame for so many quippy, ultra-violent action movies. When that formula works, it works, but just imagine listening to a person who only thinks they’re adorably jokey and flippant. High on its own supply, "Boy Kills World" is a lot like that, so say au revoir to your patience. If only this were actually a horror-movie version of "Boy Meets World" with Cory and Topanga Matthews going on a murderous rampage. As the undisciplined feature debut from director Moritz Mohr, this dystopian action extravaganza may be an original, as in not based on source material, but winds up feeling like a purée of "The Hunger Games," "The Raid: Redemption," "Crank," and a bunch of video games. Here, manic does not equal fun.

Bill Skarsgård is in top physical shape as “Boy,” vowing revenge since childhood after his family was shot dead by dynasty matriarch Hilda Van Der Koy (Famke Janssen). Left deaf and mute, he has grown up training with a shaman (Yayan Ruhian) in the forest. Once it’s time for the Van Der Koy family to “cleanse” this futuristic city with The Culling—where townspeople are annually murdered in public as a televised spectacle—Boy will be ready to start his revolution. And we get to hear every single thought in his damn head, while he bickers to the ghost of his dead sister Nina (Quinn Copeland).

The screenplay by Tyler Burton Smith and Arend Remmers does efficiently establish its world without any lumbering World-Building Exposition, but this is a pretty straightforward revenge plot with a lot of glib snarkiness and bloody violence to give it more personality. The major gimmick here is that our deaf-mute hero has a “super cool” inner voice from his favorite arcade game (voiced in Movie Trailer Guy overdrive by H. John Benjamin). One other variation on this gimmick is that Boy can usually read lips, but he can’t for one of his revenge partners, Benny (Isaiah Mustafa), who seems to be speaking nonsense. In theory—and here and there in practice—it’s a clever, funny idea. After a while, when that self-aware conceit is not being done in moderation, it grows obnoxious and numbing. Read the full review at GuyAtTheMovies.com


Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate released "Boy Kills World" (111 min.) in theaters on April 26, 2024.