As Screamfest continues in Los Angeles, we’ve been treated to some great films that are perfect for this spooky season (yes, we will be saying this till the end of October). On Wednesday night we were able to attend the premiere of The Loneliest Boy in the World directed by Martin Owen.
The Loneliest Boy in the World stars Max Harwood “as the sheltered and unsocialized Oliver who is tasked with making new friends after the sudden and devastating death of his mother. He decides that digging a few up (literally) might be his best bet. However, when he awakens the morning after his excavating escapades, he discovers that his newly acquired friends have mysteriously come to life overnight, launching them all into a series of misadventures as they try to keep their secret safe from neighbors, bullies, and social workers alike.”
Basically…after his mother (Carol Anne Watts) dies in a freak accident, Oliver doesn’t take it well. She’s all he’s ever truly had in his life, so he doesn’t know what it’s like to have friends. He spends all of his time alone watching TV-mainly his mother’s favorite shows which include soap operas and Alf. Margot (Ashley Benson) and Julius (Evan Ross), the two case workers, check in on him frequently. Julius feels he’s a lost cause, whereas Margot thinks there’s still hope for him.
The two are literally always betting on Oliver and what will happen to him in the future. Julius thinks Oliver should be put back in the asylum he once resided in after his mother’s death. Margot on the other hand thinks he deserves a chance. For Oliver to not have to go back to the asylum he has to make some friends and show that he can lead a normal life. If he can prove to both Julius and Margot that he’s able to accomplish this, they will close his case out. The catch is he only has one week to do this.
Oliver doesn’t know the first thing about making friends. Sure, he tries to talk to people but he’s so awkward all of his interactions don’t go so well. He does have one encounter with a girl named Chloe (Tallulah Haddon) and they seem to hit it off-that is until he tells her how his mother died. After that moment goes awry, he realizes he has to figure out some more ways to make friends.
Those friends Oliver chooses to make just happen to be deceased. The first body he digs up is Mitch (Hero Fiennes Tiffin) a guy about his age who according to his family was “friends with everybody.” That’s all Oliver needs to hear. He goes and digs him up without a bit of hesitation.
After digging up Mitch, Oliver is feeling slightly less alone but not entirely. He then decides to go back to the cemetery where he digs up Frank (Ben Miller), Susanne (Susan Wokoma), and Mel (Zenobia Williams). Oliver just wants a family and though it’s not the most convenient way to get one, it works for him.
For Oliver, Mitch, Frank, Susanne, and Mel are the family he never had. When they come to life, he seems unfazed by it. I mean, I guess we shouldn’t have been surprised by this because he did dig them up from their graves. He bonds with them right away and has no problem referring to Susanne and Frank as Mom and Dad. But honestly, what The Loneliest Boy in the World teaches the viewer is that family doesn’t have to be blood-related. As we said, Oliver bonded immediately with everyone, and he just enjoyed life with them. They brought him out of his shell and showed him that he didn’t have to feel alone anymore.
One of the things that were the most interesting about The Loneliest Boy in the World was that Owen never reveals to the audience exactly how the corpses came to life. One could assume it happened after Oliver took the family photo but that seems too easy. This has us under the impression that they never actually came to life and Oliver just imagined it all. That honestly makes this movie even more fun to watch because it isn’t something that feels like it needs to be explained. It’s left up t to the viewer to decide and will spark a lot of interesting conversations.
The Loneliest Boy in the World is a colorful film and it made me think of Tim Burton’s films like Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands. It just felt like a classic horror-comedy film and I loved that. Like Burton’s films, Owen doesn’t gloss over the details. His zombies are exactly what they’re supposed to be. The makeup is incredible, and the zombies have all the drippy skin, and they look like they should be in the grave not walking around kicking it with the masses.
The Loneliest Boy in the World is the perfect film to watch for Halloween or anytime really. It has the right number of moments that give you a tiny little scare here or there, but it also has a lot of heart. It’s a quirky film but it’s entertaining and the entire cast has such great chemistry; with some of my favorite moments being between Oliver and Mitch because it felt like they were more than friends. Their relationship felt like they were brothers.
Harwood delivers an amazing and vulnerable performance. Having to spend the first part of the film alone and talking to someone who is not talking back takes a lot of work. He gave me vibes reminiscent of Johnny Depp’s performance as Edward Scissorhands because he had that same quiet calm and that awkwardness that was endearing. In addition, Oliver is a relatable character in a lot of ways because we can all understand what grief feels like and the feeling of loneliness. His mother was his best friend and that’s a loss that is so hard to come out of.
Tiffin also delivered a great performance as well. It was nice to see him in a comedic role because all of the films he’s done so far have been on the serious side. I was impressed by his comedic timing. And based on Mitch’s personality you would have assumed he was too cool for Oliver but that wasn’t the case at all. He and Oliver bonded right away, and he didn’t even judge him for being different.
During his time with his zombie family, Oliver learns a lot about himself too. He learns that he can be on his own and he doesn’t have to be scared. He learns that there is nothing wrong with him or the type of person he is. Most importantly, he learns how to overcome his grief. So, if you’re looking for a film that is fun and heartwarming with a touch of a scare, in it a la Tim Burton, we highly recommend checking out The Loneliest Boy in the World.
The Loneliest Boy in the World is in select theaters now and will be available on digital platforms on October 18th.