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boy kills world


In Theaters


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Paul Asay

Movie Review

Boy, growing up is hard.

At least it is for, y’know, Boy.

He doesn’t have a name more than that. Or, if he does, he sure ain’t telling. His current guardian has done his level best to strip away all his memories. They’re distractions, the shaman insists; unnecessary for what Boy is growing up to be.

And what is that? A weapon. A tool for bloody, terminal revenge.

Back in the day, perhaps when Boy had a name, he had a family, too. A mother. A little sister. A nice little home where Boy fondly remembers Mom cleaning the family’s automatic weapons.

But then came Culling Day, the annual celebration when the city’s ruler, Hilda Van Der Koy, gathered up a handful of her hated enemies and, well, killed ‘em.

Boy’s mother and sister were on the list, apparently—and they met their tragic ends. Boy surely would’ve been dead, too, had he not been rescued by the shaman.

But the shaman wasn’t exactly a loving, kindly caretaker, either. He had about as much love for Hilda as Boy did. And soon, they embarked on the whole “bloody, terminal revenge” plan.

Yep, Boy lost his mom. He lost his home. He even lost his hearing. But he still has a mission: to kill Hilda and her own duplicitous family.

And he still has … his sister?

Sure, Boy watched Nina die all those years ago. He remembers it as well as he remembers anything. But Nina’s not one to let a little death get in the way of brother-sister bonding time. And when Boy’s ready for his blood-soaked mission, she’ll be coming along, too. It’s hard to enjoy revenge without a little company.

Positive Elements

Boy kills a lot of people. No spoiler there: It’s kinda right in the title. The only person who believes that Boy could, y’know, do something besides kill is Boy’s hallucinatory little sister, Nina. “You can’t just keep killing everybody,” she says. And it’s true.

But that said, Hilda’s regime could stand a little overthrowing. Hilda’s ruthless, paranoid rule has stirred some justifiable anger amongst her people, and Boy falls in with a few resistance fighters. And while we might find their methods extreme, we can at least offer a golf clap for their war against a greater evil.

Spiritual Elements

Boy’s guardian might be called a shaman, but his spiritual bona fides seems to be lacking. And outside that character name, the only real hints of spirituality we see are in the appearances of Nina (which even Boy acknowledges are hallucinatory, not visits from a ghost). She does make a reference to magic, saying that nobody understand how it works. “That’s why it’s called magical,” she confidently points out.

Sexual Content

Boy goes shirtless at times, and a female character wears a midriff-baring top. Boy seems attracted to a female flower seller for about a half a minute, and Nina remarks on how “pretty” someone is.

In a flashback, the 11-or-12-year-old Boy attends a tea party thrown by his little sister (who’s probably about 8 years old), wearing a skirt (over his pants) and a tiara for the event—which I interpreted as just Boy playing a role that Nina wanted him to play. Later, someone puts lipstick on the adult boy in preparation for an appearance on camera.

Violent Content

So, Boy doesn’t kill the whole world. But between himself, his friends and his opposition, the body count here is fairly extraordinary. Dozens upon dozens of people meet their bloody ends—often due to a well-placed bullet and accompanied by a splash or (depending on the gauge and number of shots fired) explosion of blood. I won’t detail every casualty here, but I will mention some of the more notable ones.

One man—apparently high on something—continues to fight despite breaking a bone or two, having his jaw pulled from its hinges and, ultimately, losing a couple of limbs. One of those limbs, his arm, he rips off himself: Caught in a door of some kind, he twists his body free from the trapped appendage so he can keep fighting.

A guy has his skull crushed by a heavy bit of machinery. (We see the resulting mess.) A man has both his arm and foot severed before being executed. Someone gets skewered and killed by a camera boom. A handful of heads are cleaved from their bodies. We see a corpse hanging from a tree (along with a still-living person struggling to stay alive). A hatchet point lands in someone’s forehead, ultimately killing that person. A man has hooks placed in his mouth, with the intent clearly to rip the man’s face apart by the cheeks. The camera turns away from the scene, but someone who did see the act vomits messily.

Someone is perforated by point-blank blasts from a machine gun. Several people are dispatched via a huge sledgehammer. Someone is stabbed in the neck with a fake carrot. Knives slice throats. Swords skewer torsos. People are stabbed in the face. Necks are broken (as are plenty of other bones).

A number of vicious, grotesque wounds do damage before death (usually) follows. Several people, for instance, are ookily wounded with a hand grater. Someone is overcome by a giant pineapple. Unfortunate captives wear shock collars that are activated at crucial moments. A leg and arm are wincingly sliced, lengthwise. One person’s cheek is grotesquely cut.

In flashback, we see Boy’s mother and sister killed. While the shooting mostly takes place off screen, we repeatedly see Nina’s hand slip out of Boy’s own, indicating the moment of death. These and other scenes of violence perpetrated against children can be particularly difficult to watch—as can the anguished pleas for mercy from family members. We see how Boy loses his hearing: A red-hot poker is stuck into his ears.

Boy’s training was, by any standard, fairly abusive. We see him spar—painfully and close to lethally—with the shaman in flashback. The shaman also often buried Boy in mud, forcing him to lie underneath the dirt and breath through a bamboo tube. Boy is knocked back from the recoil of a gun he fires, and he’s knocked around by a rolling statue head. He tells the audience that the only real fun he had back in the day was from his “beetle fight club,” with the beetles named Gabe and Alphonso. Alas, Boy picks up the corpse of one, marking the end of said fight club.

We see the carcasses of what appear to be goats: A butcher slices out the tongue of one. People are thwacked in the genitals, and at least one man is shot there (the bullet going up through the body and out the skull). Boy discovers a body in a car trunk. There’s a crude reference to someone feeling “butt-hurt.”

Crude or Profane Language

Boy, being both deaf and mute, swears very little. We do see him mouth the f-word, but that’s about it.

If only his supporting cast was so restrained. We hear about 55 f-words (including one from little sister Nina) and about 20 s-words. Also on tap: “a–,” “b–ch,” “b–tard,” “d–n,” “h—,” “p-ssed,” “d–k” and “pr–k.” God’s name is misused three times, once with the word “d–n.” Jesus’ name is abused twice.

In yet another flashback, Boy and Nina walk up to a statue of Hilda. Nina holds up one of her hands, fingers splayed out, and she tells Boy that she “gave her the middle finger five times, because it’s all five fingers at once.” Both spend quite a bit of time giving the statue that same five-fingered salute.

Drug and Alcohol Content

The shaman’s main claim to shamanism would seem to be his heavy use of psychedelics. He smokes something with psychotropic properties almost every evening (if Boy’s flashbacks are anything to go on), blowing smoke in the tween boy’s face and causing him to hallucinate, too.

Those hallucinations can be extraordinarily bothersome: One involves a hand reaching out of the shaman’s mouth; another his head enwreathed by other mouths; a third features several eyeballs sprouting and falling from the shaman’s eye sockets, as if he were laying eggs through his skull. Teeth fall out and run across the ground, laughing. The shaman simply laughs throughout all of these visions.

A couple of characters inhale what appears to be a very powerful stimulant—so powerful that it keeps the inhaler operating far after his wounds should’ve cowed him. (See the first paragraph of violent content for more details.) Several other people drink, and one character swigs from an ever-present flask regularly. Other characters smoke. Boy chews up and swallows a cigarette.

Other Negative Elements

As mentioned, someone vomits at the sight of a particularly grotesque death. Hilda Van Der Koy and the rest of her family are pretty loathsome rulers, and the society they’ve fostered is horrifically unfair. People lie and betray.


Boy Kills World is as simple as its title suggests. Taking its cues from boss-heavy videogames and blood-drenched graphic novels, this film—the directorial debut of Mortiz Mohr—is a frenetic fever dream that’s all style, anti-substance.

And, as a Christian movie reviewer, that’s one of the few notches of merit I can give it.

That fact is not good for you. But it is good for me. I don’t have to plum the grim story’s depths for spiritual meaning or talk about its socio-political asides. It’s simple, straightforward and, oh, ever so salacious. It showers its sets with blood. It thrills in its unlikely death instruments. Its body of work consists, mostly, of actual bodies. As such, I can save my dwindling gray matter for other reviews.

It might be just me, but it feels like we’re seeing more films like these—films that implore us not to take all the blood and guts too seriously. Laugh through the eviscerations. Chuckle through the beheadings. If those films are growing in popularity, it seems that very popularity may say something about the trajectory of our society.

But we’ll leave that speculation for another review. Boy Kills World is as good as its name. Or rather, as bad.

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Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.