Review: ‘Boy Kills World’

Bill Skarsgard Goes Nuts In Hyper-Violent Revenge Flick With Shades Of 'The Raid' And 'The Running Man'

“I am an instrument shaped for a single purpose.”

You won’t be surprised that singular purpose is vengeance in the insane revenge flick Boy Kills World. I mean, you don’t get lines like that in a rom-com, do ya? And if you did, probably it wouldn’t be Bill Skarsgard delivering them, because his reputation is for being the “creepy” member of the Skarsgard clan. But in Boy Kills World, he undergoes a physical metamorphosis and delivers ass-kicking skills so tight he can literally go toe-to-toe with Yayan Ruhian, one of the standout performers in The Raid. And that is just one of the many highlights in this unchained beat ’em up that sets Skarsgard as one of the next great action movie stars.

Director Moritz Mohr pulls from tons of genre influences, particularly classic action films, to create the look and feel of Boy Kills World. In one respect, it resembles The Running Man and the reality television culture at its center. The film is set in a totalitarian future where the rebellious masses are pacified by, what else, televised violence. Each year there’s “The Culling”, in which the maniacal ruler Hilda van der Koy (Famke Janssen) broadcasts the execution of civilians she deems a threat. Skarsgard, looking absolutely shredded, plays Boy, whose mother and beloved little sister were murdered in one of these barbaric displays. Left deaf and mute by the experience, Boy is found by the mysterious Shaman (Ruhian) who raises him to get revenge on Hilda and her family, who are all as unhinged as she is.

Every character in Boy Kills World feels ripped from the pages of a darkly funny, R-rated comic book, like Deadpool in its prime. There’s Brett Gelman as Hilda’s son Gideon, who tries to add a bit of theatrical flair to the killings; there’s Michelle Dockery as her daughter Melanie who is like a particularly psychotic Katie Couric; and then there’s June 27, played by the always-awesome Happy Death Day star Jessica Rothe (originally it was Samara Weaving in the role). June, sporting kung-fu badassery on par with Boy’s, wears a message-spewing helmet looking like an outcast from the world of Tron.

In Boy’s savage quest for vengeance, the murder-death-kill count escalates in vicious and comical ways.  Earning its MPAA score, this film is absolutely brutal, with Boy doing some really nasty shit with a cheese grater and a carrot stick, which prove to be just as deadly as any gun or blade. Other hilarious deaths occur at the hands of Boy’s pals, Benny, played by Isaiah Mustafa in a mush-mouthed performance that is always good for a laugh; and Basho, a misfit rebel that finds Warrior star Andrew Koji satirizing his elite martial artist skills.

In earlier versions of Boy Kills World, Skarsgard handled Boy’s inner voice himself. But in the current cut, it’s H. Jon Benjamin and at first it’s a little bit jarring and takes some getting used to. Seeing as Boy is hearing himself in the voice of a favorite video game character, and it could be seen as just one of many personalities of a broken mind, it starts to make more sense the further along the story goes. Screenwriters Tyler Burton Smith and Arend Remmers could’ve done more to flesh out this crazy Hunger Games universe that Boy exists in. There’s loads of personality in the little that we do see, but it never quite feels unique from the many inspirations it pulls from.

What an absolute blast I had with Boy Kills World, though, and if you’re a fan of old-school kung-fu flicks, classic action movies, and even video games like Double Dragon, you will, too. Skarsgard and Rothe are fresh faces to this genre but I’m guessing it won’t stay that way. Boy Kills World has cult hit written all over it, and maybe even the start of a long-running original franchise that Skarsgard can call his own. I can’t wait to see it again in a packed theater full of eager, bloodthirsty movie fans.

Boy Kills World opens in theaters on April 26th.


Boy Kills World
Travis Hopson
Travis Hopson has been reviewing movies before he even knew there was such a thing. Having grown up on a combination of bad '80s movies, pro wrestling, comic books, and hip-hop, Travis is uniquely positioned to geek out on just about everything under the sun. A vampire who walks during the day and refuses to sleep, Travis is the co-creator and lead writer for Punch Drunk Critics. He is also a contributor to Good Morning Washington, WBAL Morning News, and WETA Around Town. In the five minutes a day he's not working, Travis is also a voice actor, podcaster, and Twitch gamer. Travis is a voting member of the Critics Choice Association (CCA), Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), and Late Night programmer for the Lakefront Film Festival.
boy-kills-world-52452“I am an instrument shaped for a single purpose." You won't be surprised that singular purpose is vengeance in the insane revenge flick Boy Kills World. I mean, you don't get lines like that in a rom-com, do ya? And if you did, probably it...