Text Box: DVDSleuth.com

Text Box:   




DVDSleuth.com is your source for daily DVD news and reviews.

Evil Boy (2019)

Well Go USA

DVD Released: 9/8/2020

All Ratings out of

Movie: 1/2




Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/9/2020


I would not consider myself an expert in international horror cinema, but I’ve certainly seen my share of scary movies from around the world, mostly from Italy, Japan, Spain, and Korea.  When it comes to films from behind the “Iron Curtain” (Yes, I’m old enough for that term to mean something.), I don’t have much experience.  I’ve seen Night Watch and The Darkest Hour, but few others.  Based on this, my idea of Russian films are big, bombastic special-effects laden affairs.  Therefore, it was interesting to approach a smaller, more intimate film like Evil Boy.

Igor (Vladimir Vdovichenkov) and Polina (Elena Lyadova) are attempting to move past the stress involved with the disappearance of their son.  They’ve decided to adopt a child to fill the void in their lives.  They visit a decidedly creepy looking orphanage and while there, Igor spots a figure in the basement.  It’s a feral boy (Sevastian Bugaev) who has no hair and can’t speak.  Oddly, Polina feels an immediate bond with the child and, despite the fact that it’s against the rules, they decide to take him home.  Even stranger, Polina begins to call the boy Vanya, which was also the name of their missing son.  As this Vanya becomes healthier and take on a more normal appearance, Igor is wary of some of the boy’s unusual behaviors.  But, he can’t deny that Polina seems happy.  But, as time passes, and Vanya’s appearance continues to change, it becomes apparent that there was a reason that Igor and Polina were not supposed to take him home.

Again, I don’t know much about Russian horror films, but Evil Boy (which was originally entitled “Stray”) plays like something from Japan or America.  It is somewhat slow and deliberate in its pacing, with some subtle flashes of action in the first hour.  The story unfolds in a way leaves the viewer unsure of where it’s going to go in the beginning, but, as this is a horror film, we have an idea that things will go wrong at some point.  Unlike many American movies, the characters are presented as intelligent, thoughtful people, and the movie doesn’t go out of its way to make us hate anyone.  Speaking of the story, once the twist is revealed, it is indeed satisfying.  I can’t say that I’ve ever seen this exact story in a movie before (although I’ve seen plenty which are like it), and I can’t help but wonder if this is based on some sort of folklore. 

However, there is something missing from Evil Boy.  Perhaps something was lost in translation or maybe it’s a cultural thing, but even though the characters are presented in a positive way, the whole thing feels very cold and unemotional.  While I don’t want to be spoon-fed every detail, the opening is awkward and it’s hard to tell at first if Vanya is missing or dead.  Any movie which features a “Why can’t they see that something is wrong with the child?” plotline can be frustrating and there are several moments here where the viewer will shake their heads in disbelief.  As noted above, I’ve seen some of the big Russian films and the visual effects looked great.  However, there are a few CG moments in Evil Boy which are cringe-worthy.

Evil Boy is the first feature film from Director Olga Gorodetskaya, which is not surprising, as the movie feels like it’s trying to find its footing.  There are certainly some things to like here, and given the lack of movies recently, it’s nice to see something a little bit different.  The movie is well-shot (although Gorodetskaya is way too enamored with overhead shots) and the acting is good.  If you are interested in seeing what a “smaller” Russian film looks like, Evil Boy is a good choice.  As stated, the movie certainly had promise, and when it was done my wife and I both stated that someone should take the idea and remake it.

Evil Boy is not a good advertisement for the Russian adoption system on DVD courtesy of Well Go USA.  The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs.  The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain or defects from the source materials.  The colors look good and the level of detail is notable.  Again, I don’t have any background information on this film, but it doesn’t look like a low-bugdet project and the transfer enhances the slick look.  The DVD carries both a Russian and English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track.  The tracks provide clear dialogue and sound effects.  There are some notable surround sound effects here, which give the track a real sense of depth and scope.  The subwoofer action isn’t prevalent, but it’s effective.  The English dubbing is questionable, as the voices don’t always match the character’s appearance, but the track still delivers a nicely balanced mix.

The only extras on the Evil Boy DVD are a TEASER and a TRAILER for the film, both of which are offered dubbed and in Russian.

Review Copyright 2020 by Mike Long