Boy Kills World (2024, dir. Moritz Mohr)

by | Apr 26, 2024

Certificate: 18

Running Time: 110 mins

UK Distributor: Signature Entertainment

UK Release Date: 26 April 2024

WHO’S IN BOY KILLS WORLD?

Bill Skarsgård, H. Jon Benjamin, Jessica Rothe, Michelle Dockery, Brett Gelman, Isaiah Mustafa, Andrew Koji, Famke Janssen, Sharlto Copley, Yayan Ruhian, Quinn Copeland, Cameron Crovetti, Nicholas Crovetti

WHO’S BEHIND THE CAMERA?

Mortiz Mohr (director), Tyler Burton Smith and Arend Remmers (writers), Zainab Azizi, Wayne Fitzjohn, Dan Kagan, Alex Lebovici, Roy Lee, Stuart Manashil, Sam Raimi and Simon Swart (producers), Ludvig Forssell (composer), Peter Matjasko (cinematographer), Lucian Barnard (editor)

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

A young deaf-mute man (Skarsgård) takes revenge against the regime that killed his family…

WHAT ARE MY THOUGHTS ON BOY KILLS WORLD?

It’s a funny and welcome coincidence that April of 2024 has been bookended by two pretty gruesome action movies, both made by first-time directors, and with each one about an unnamed, anger-driven protagonist seeking revenge against the corrupt regime that murdered their family. It is also amusing how both of them, in their own unique ways, are hardcore thrill rides that will give you more than you bargained for.

Boy Kills World, though, couldn’t be further apart from Monkey Man in terms of tone and overall delivery. Whereas Dev Patel’s film was a much darker and sterner thriller that spoke to the socio-political landscape of India, the debut feature of Moritz Mohr is an extremely kinetic and tongue-in-cheek black comedy with a far greater taste for overt satire and outrageously cartoonish violence. In comic-book layman’s terms, Boy Kills World is the Deadpool to Monkey Man’s Wolverine.

However, in a similar way to how The Raid isn’t all that removed from Dredd (two other brutal and similarly plotted action films that came out around the same time back in 2012), they are united in their feverish commitment to dishing out some extremely gory action that few other filmmakers would care to exhibit nowadays. Between the two, I would personally give the edge to Monkey Man, for the sheer commitment alone from Patel both in front of and behind the camera (seriously, read up on how the guy went through hell and back just to make that film). Despite that, Boy Kills World deserves some admiration of its own, with its hyperactive and excessively violent action all amounting to a fun and rather insane ride.

The film is set in a dystopian world ruled by the wealthy Van Der Koy family, who engage in a deadly tradition called “The Culling” where they butcher their own subjects on live television. One of the few survivors is a young boy (played alternatively by twins Cameron and Nicholas Crovetti) whose mother and beloved sister Mina (Quinn Copeland) are murdered by Van Der Koy matriarch Hilda (Famke Janssen), while he is left deaf and mute. The boy is taken in by a mysterious shaman (Yayan Ruhian) who trains him to become an unstoppable fighting machine, and as an adult, Boy (now played by Bill Skarsgård) finally decides to take his battle straight to the Van Der Koys, making his way through several guards, the helmet-wearing head of security June 27 (Jessica Rothe), and various members of the elite family themselves.

To give you an idea of how insane Boy Kills World is, the above plot description doesn’t mention how Boy’s inner monologue is none other than H. Jon Benjamin, whose vocals you’ll undoubtedly recognise as the title characters of both Bob’s Burgers and Archer. Nor, in fact, does it bring up how the aforementioned “Culling” event – which is very much like if The Hunger Games actually took place in the same universe as Battle Royale – is sponsored by breakfast companies, hence why cereal mascots are viciously slaughtering people on live television. Oh, and also, there’s imagery that ranges from teeth falling out of someone’s mouth and coming to life, to a contorting henchman who simply refuses to die, to robots playing guitar and an armed militant holding up a dodo.

It’s pretty chaotic, to say the least, and the script by Tyler Burton Smith and Arend Remmers admirably refuses to dial down its madness from the moment it starts all the way up to the brutal end. At times, though, it can be a lot to take in, with some supporting characters feeling more obnoxious than anything, while there are aspects of the plot that perhaps could have used more fleshing out to see how they fit in to the bizarre and bleak world around them. However, director Mohr creates a flowing harmony with the outlandish script by leaning into the darkly funny nature of how this particular authoritarian world seems to work, wherein the filmmaker emphasises the vapid nuttiness of the ruling Van Der Koy clan and how their shared insanity has led to a society that almost operates on Wonderland logic. It can often lead to some very uncomfortably funny moments, even with our deaf-mute main character who, at one point, is unable to read a character’s lips so everything they’re saying comes out as hilariously noble gibberish.

Then, there’s the violence. Monkey Man may have been more pragmatic in its own handling of gore, but Boy Kills World is practically insatiable when it comes to delivering some absolutely over-the-top carnage that borders on grotesque. Mohr ensures that the viewer hears every cracking bone and every sliced piece of skin either by knife or by cheese-grater (making the similar use of such a weapon in Evil Dead Rise seem gentle by comparison), on top of all the punching and kicking and shooting that accompanies all types of blood spurting from every available direction. As gruesome as it can be, the director again leans into the comedic nature of it all, giving the violence a truly cartoonish feel that revels in its exaggerated execution, enough to where you might be laughing at its suddenness if you aren’t already wincing at how excessive it is.

As funny as it can be, Boy Kills World never loses sight of how brutal and mean-spirited it is, but in a way where you’re not overtly uncomfortable with how it’s telling this simple revenge tale in such a nasty manner. It is a largely fun ride, with creative action sequences and an impressive dedication to its extreme violence, though once again between the two I am personally more in favour of Monkey Man, which I felt to be a sterner and constructively more impressive piece of work. This is more or less the pop art version of that film, but like with actual pop art, there’s still enough enjoyment to get out of it.

SO, TO SUM UP…

Boy Kills World is an utterly demented and excessively violent revenge thriller with enough moments of dark humour and creative action to overcome its slightly underdeveloped narrative.

Three out of five stars

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