Bill Skarsgård commits bloody martial-arts mayhem as a deaf warrior trained by a mysterious shaman (The Raid’s Yayan Ruhian) to topple a far-flung dystopia in Moritz Mohr’s loony debut feature.
Boy Kills World
Akin to stuffing a supercollider full of arcade beat ’em ups, ultra-violent comics, and martial-arts B movies, and then mashing all the buttons, Moritz Mohr’s feature-film debut is a wicked, maximalist action-opera that pits a titular Boy (an impressively shredded Bill Skarsgård) against Hilda Van Der Koy (Famke Janssen), the deranged matriarch of a corrupt post-apocalyptic dynasty that left the boy orphaned, deafened, and voiceless. Moulded from this tragic childhood into an instrument for revenge by an enigmatic shaman (The Raid’s Yayan Ruhian), Boy is set loose in his far-flung dystopia on the eve of its annual culling of dissidents. Feverish bedlam ensues. As he tries to parse his place in this delirious realm, Boy soon falls in with a desperate resistance group, all the while bickering with the apparent ghost of his rebellious little sister.
There is little nuance to this mayhem, but heaps of heart, particularly in Boy’s naive sincerity. This isn’t a purely silent performance — an inner voice intermittently expresses his character’s increasing incredulity — but Skarsgård is infectious as he expressively reacts to the wild antics of his fellow cast. This includes the wacky Sharlto Copley and Brett Gellman as Van Der Koy’s cronies, Jessica Rothe as a hardened enforcer who communicates via her sick LED motorcycle helmet, and a hilariously mumbly Isaiah Mustafa, whose frequent exposition transforms into surrealist asides on account of Boy’s bad lip-reading.
If Sam Raimi’s producer credit hadn’t already calibrated your expectations, steel yourself for the gnarly deployment of a cheese grater across multiple faces and appendages.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
Content advisory: explicit violence, crude content, coarse language