‘Boy Kills World’: Satisfies Bloodlust with Style

Bill Skarsgård as Boy in 'Boy Kills World'

‘Boy Kills World’ makes no bones about what viewers will get, as it’s right there in the title. The title character (Bill Skarsgård) is mute, stemming from childhood trauma when he saw his sister get killed by Hilda Van Der Koy (Famke Janssen) in an annual event called The Culling. The boy went into exile and has been training for many years with a shaman/mentor (Yayan Ruhmian) to exact revenge on Hilda.

Skarsgård may best be known for playing Pennywise in the new IT movies, but he’s played a few off-kilter characters in the horror and fantasy genre. He’s now tackling the title character in ‘Boy Kills World.’ Skarsgård’s character is only referred to as Boy, and he’s orphaned, deaf, and left on his own after the tragic events of The Culling killed his family. The Culling is a public demonstration at the hands of the corrupt Hilda Van Der Koy. It’s used to strike fear in the community with its tragic and deadly aftermath. Boy disappears and lives under the tutelage of the Shaman, who trains him to be a deadly assassin. Boy describes to the audiences how Hilda took everything from him, and now he’s super clean, super deadly, and shaped to kill Hilda Van Der Koy. Decades pass, and now he’s physically superior, armed, and ready to avenge his family’s death.

The bulk of the film sees him in his return to the city of his youth, where he slowly makes his way up the Van Der Koy ruling ladder, from Hilda’s brother-in-law Glen (Sharlto Copley) to brother Gideon (Brett Gelman) to sister Melanie (Michelle Dockery). At each step, the now-grown boy is met with tons of resistance, although he gets help from a prisoner, Basho (Andrew Koji), whom he frees along the way.

Directed by Moritz Mohr and written by Tyler Burton Smith and Arend Remmers, the film has a light/irreverent tone right from the start that helps not to take the abundance of violence too seriously. Because he’s mute, the boy has given himself an inner monologue voice he takes from a Street Fighter-style video game that the audience hears as a constant voiceover. This idea alone is responsible for 90 percent of the film’s humor, as hearing the voice saying his thoughts instead of him saying them leads to many unfiltered words spuing forth.

Even though the film’s fight scenes feature an orgy of blood, the stylized nature of the violence keeps it from feeling too “real.” The camera is almost constantly moving, swirling around and through the action, making the film highly entertaining throughout. The variety of shots that Mohr and his team employ and the above-average CGI are more than enough to please cinephiles who also enjoy a guilt-free killing spree.

As it often is in action films, the story doesn’t quite measure up. As the title suggests, all you need to know is that it’s about one person against virtually everyone else in the film, and the hows and whys of how he got there are mostly unnecessary and serve mostly to make the runtime too long. Some late-film exposition makes up for that lack to a degree, but no one should expect to get overly involved in the storytelling.

‘Boy Kills World’ is an excellent addition to a film landscape that often feels dominated by franchises. It has style to spare, using its ultraviolence to satisfy the bloodlust of hardcore action fans without becoming so off-putting that more squeamish people can’t also enjoy it.

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