Review: Boys in the Trees

When you are subscribed to any streaming service you always get recommendations, some are just your scene, others are totally not what you are looking for. And sometimes the recommendation sections knows better than you think. Boys in the Trees is absolutely not what I imagined I’d be watching but it was recommended and the reviews were quite good so I decided to watch it. In the end it turns out, the movie is a hidden gem. Why? Read on and find out.

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Boys in the Trees – General information

Before you throw this movie aside since you don’t like scary movies, just know, it is not. Not really. There are some jump scares or scary scenes but nothing that will keep you from sleeping at night. The movie is quite heavy though.

Boys in the Trees is a 2016 fantasy-coming of age movie from Australia and is directed by Nicholas Verso. It stars Toby Wallace, Gulliver McGrath, Mitzi Ruhlmann and Justin Holborow. The movie tells the story of the skater Corey who usually hangs out with his skater buddies, namely Jango. Being friends with them takes quite a toll on him especially because they tend to bully Corey’s former best friend and outsider Jonah. The story is set in 1997 Halloween night and about a night of fantasy and scares when Corey decides to spend some time with Jonah while also growing closer to the serious girl Romany and keeping his distance from Jango.

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The casting and the characters

The cast did a lot better than what I expected when I read the reviews. I totally expected a low budget movie without good acting. I got something different though. The acting in the movie is amazing. Especially Toby Wallace as Corey and Gulliver McGrath as Jonah show great acting and really bring their characters to life on screen. They totally convince in their roles and make you feel with them.

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One unusual thing about Boys in the Trees compared to other movies, it shows good and bad sides to all their characters. Corey is not just the good guy who befriended the wrong crowd, Jonah is not just the victim who just wants his best friend back, Romany is not just a grown up girl but has a temper too and Jango is not just a bully but also has things he cares about.

Jonah, while you always find new sides to him, has a little bit of character development, for Corey he mostly has to work through his personal problems during the Halloween night. Jango probably has the most character development I admit. Romany, I have to say though, doesn’t have much character development. She is mostly there as a side character who just says bluntly what Corey is already thinking. Overall though, the characters just kind of grew on you even if they had bad characteristics too.

The premise and story

The story packs quite the punch. It features a lot of slower scenes but it all fits together. Just 10 minutes in you already get that something is going on you don’t know about yet but really getting it is…well, you can sometimes guess but you will still get a little bit of a shock in the end. I present more about my theory of the movie down below, but since there would be spoilers I won’t post it right here.

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The movie works with metaphors and symbolism a lot but also sometimes twists the story around and you have to guess what everything means. I’m quite sure everyone has their own theories about the movie.

The story enchants and catches you though. Mainly because you really want to know where it is going. If it was usual it would be Corey hanging out with Jonah for Halloween and then cutting his friendship with Jango off but this movie is unusual so that’s not what happens. It is kind of ironic though that the story is fantasy related while the actions of the characters seem a lot more realistic than with some other movies.

The fantasy in general is kept as an underlying element. The main focus lies on the backstory of the characters, then comes the fantasy.

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My theories about the movie

SPOILERS

This movie lets you build a hundred different theories. I have a few of my own though.
Around the beginning you see Jonah around the water where he later on leads Corey to discover his dead body. I think that was the moment he did die but since there is some fantasy in the movie, I do think he or his ghost did stay. Mainly because he wanted to help his friend see that he cannot continue on following Jango and his buddies but Corey had to start making choices of his own. Even if they grew apart, Jonah definitely still cares for his best friend and while he does tease Corey a lot he definitely wants the best for him.

Corey on the other hand has to work through his childhood drama of abandoning Jonah when he needed him most. It says a lot that while that happened Jonah still cares for his friend. You see that Jonah might not like what happened and also have to deal with the aftermath, he does not directly give the fault to Corey but seems to kind of understand that they were still scared kids.

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As for the man in white and the ceremony in the movie. I think since Jonah was dead, Death (the man in white) came looking to take him away but Jonah wanted to stay and help his friend. Around the end Jonah understood that he could not stay and finally accepted what happened but was also happier since he could help Corey. So in the end he goes with Death and disappears. I think the ceremony was mostly symbolism to hint at Jonah being dead.

I think it is amazing how someone like Jonah, who experienced such a horrible thing as a child, still cared for his friend so deeply that he stayed even after he died.
I also think that Jango realized over time that Corey was his best friend and meant more to him than he first thought. So he kind of got his stuff together in the end and decided to be there for him and not be a jerk. Maybe there is a romantic aspect for him there but that could also just be my BL mind speaking 🙂

SPOILERS END

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Overall conclusion and review

Boys in the Trees is definitely a hidden gem and throws some stuff at you that you just have to think about and find out on your own what it means. It is quite a heavy movie though, so beware of that. I do like that it is not just a scary movie but has an actual story line.

The characters could be real people and don’t act totally fictional and while others might say it is low budget, I do think the images were good and had enough to be a believable movie and not scare people away with cheap images and directing. Not, it definitely is a good, even if heavy, movie.

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