Film reviews and more since 2009

Boy Kills World (2024) review

Dir. Moritz Mohr

By: Steve Pulaski

Rating: ★★

The irony of Boy Kills World‘s R-rating is that its juvenile humor, obsessive swath of obscenities, and cartoonishly gory violence will be most enjoyed by those too young to buy a ticket to the film themselves.

I might’ve been lukewarm on Monkey Man — another thriller predicated on the oft-exhausting trope of a human killing machine taking on dozens of enemies with whatever he can turn into a weapon — but at least that flick attempted to have some external relevance, as undercooked as it was. Aside from a late-second act twist that completely recontextualizes the plot, Boy Kills World offers a lot of noise and not much worthwhile entertainment, though it’s perfectly keen on assaulting your senses for over 100 minutes.

Bill Skarsgård (It: Chapter One) stars as the titular Boy, who grew up in a dystopian future hellscape ruled by Hilda Van Der Koy (Famke Janssen) and her family dynasty. There’s an annual holiday called “The Culling,” where Hilda rounds up all her mortal enemies and executes them before an audience. Boy’s mother and sister were victims of The Culling many years past. Later, he was taken in by a feral hermit named Shaman (Yayan Ruhian), who put him through a violent crash-course of martials arts training in order to exact revenge on the Van Der Koy family.

Skarsgård’s Boy is deaf and mute, and one of Boy Kills World‘s numerous gimmicks is that Boy’s inner-monologue is the announcer of one of his favorite arcade fighting games. That voice is supplied by H. Jon Benjamin (Bob’s Burgers), who does his best Mortal Kombat impersonation while still managing to be more light-hearted as opposed to gravely serious. Even as much as Benjamin brings to the table, the narration no less manages to grow redundant, especially when the voice in Boy’s head is tasked with doing a “Bad Lip Reading” of what a foreign language-speaking ally (Isaiah Mustafa) is saying (since Boy reads lips).

If anybody could’ve made Boy a living, breathing character on his physicality and facial expressions alone, that person would’ve been Bill Skarsgård, which also clues you into how unserious Boy Kills World is.

When Boy grows up, his mission in life becomes finding and killing Hilda and her family, including her husband, Glen (Sharlto Copley), her PR powerhouse; Melanie (Michelle Dockery), who spearheads the televised “Culling” each year; and Gideon (Brett Gelman), her gofer brother-in-law, who writes Glen’s speeches. Gideon is the punching bag of the movie as he’s constantly trying to install Shakespearean metaphors into the speeches he writes. Finally, there’s June27 (Jessica Rothe, Happy Death Day), a Van Der Koy agent with a motorcycle helmet boasting a digital visor that serves as her mode of communication.

Boy Kills World is overstuffed with gimmicks and cutesy bits of nonsense as its script sprints forward, hardly stopping to question anything its introduced into the story. Its hybridization of comic-book-esque sets and martial arts choreography, run amuck with vulgar insults like “fuck puppet,” and brutal, button-mashing violence, reflects that spirit of middle school boys who got their hands on a case of Mountain Dew. The film’s breathless pacing never stops to consider any meaning beyond the audience’s momentary oohs and ahhs. Late in the third act, when the film tries to justify its existence with some pablum about family and morality, most will be too checked out to care.

NOTE: Boy Kills World is now playing exclusively in theaters.

NOTE II: Take a listen to my interview with actor Brett Gelman regarding his film roles and first book, The Terrifying Realm of the Possible:

Starring: Bill Skarsgård, Jessica Rothe, Michelle Dockery, Brett Gelman, Isaiah Mustafa, Andrew Joji, Famke Janssen, Sharlto Copley, and Yayn Ruhian. Narrated by: H. Jon Benjamin. Directed by: Moritz Mohr.

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About Steve Pulaski

Steve Pulaski has been reviewing movies since 2009 for a barrage of different outlets. He graduated North Central College in 2018 and currently works as an on-air radio personality. He also hosts a weekly movie podcast called "Sleepless with Steve," dedicated to film and the film industry, on his YouTube channel. In addition to writing, he's a die-hard Chicago Bears fan and has two cats, appropriately named Siskel and Ebert!

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