Rainn Wilson

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Chiller Films | Daily Texan Staff

Director Craig Macneill tries his hardest to make the disturbing transition the titular character in “The Boy” undergoes very subtle. The trouble is, that transition is too subtle. The child, Ted, is supposed to be warping into a murderous sociopath, but the clues pointing to his horrific destiny are too spaced out and too insignificant. Instead of coming off as a budding monster, Ted seems to be a sympathetic, socially inept kid. Although the acting is remarkable, “The Boy” dives into a dull tale of a boy who experiences an unconvincing transformation into a vicious creature.

In 1989, young Ted (Jared Breeze) is a lonely kid whose dad (David Morse) operates a run-down motel in a mountainous wasteland. Ted is neglected by his despondent father and dreams of traveling to Florida to be with his mom. The kid’s obsession with dead animals and an inner hatred of being trapped in the motel seem to stoke an inner rage. His fascination with death strengthens when he meets the mysterious William (Rainn Wilson), a drifter who just cremated his deceased wife. Ted’s burning desire to leave the motel and morbid outlook on life begin to lead him down a dark path.

The film takes a tedious amount of time chronicling Ted’s dangerous transition, but it picks strange moments to highlight as "examples" of his sociopathic tendency. Sure, he collects roadkill off the highway for his father in exchange for quarters, but this comes off as disgusting than than disturbing. The first instance when Ted shows a capability for hurting other people, which is when he nearly drowns another kid while they play in the hotel pool, comes late in the second act. It, too, could be written off as something a hyper, unsupervised boy would do. There are simply no definite acts that indicate that Ted is dangerous early in the film.

It’s odd that the director chooses these ineffective moments to illustrate Ted’s murderous desires while ignoring other would-be examples in the film that are as neatly set up as bowling pins. Early in the movie, Ted is shown to have a pet rabbit. Usually, seeing a cute animal in the first act of a horror film is a clear sign that said animal will not make it out alive by the end. But here, the rabbit disappears completely from the plot, presumably unscathed. This exemplifies a missed opportunity to show Ted’s savagery in his journey to becoming a complete monster. When Ted finally jumps into his final metamorphosis into a psychopath at the film’s impressive climax, it feels unearned because of the character’s lack of development.

Although the story is weak, the actors give great performances, and they all channel significant dissatisfaction with their lives. Breeze excellently portrays Ted's frustration and emotional instability. It’s easy to sympathize with his plight, which makes it all the more harder to see him as a cold-blooded killer. Wilson is also fascinating as the drifter who befriends Ted, although a few plot threads that involve him are left dangling by the end of the film.

“The Boy” is a misguided take on a kid’s descent into madness. Macneill tries to ignore certain stereotypes associated with child sociopaths, such as desires to inflict pain on smaller creatures, and replaces them with examples that don’t make much sense. A lack of engaging incidents involving Ted make the film tedious. While it boasts strong actors and gorgeous cinematography, “The Boy” feels like a movie so desperate to be different that it fails to focus on the believability of the world and its characters.

  • Director: Craig Macneill
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Runtime: 105 minutes
  • Rating: 5/10 Mountain Motels

Considering the glamorous connotations of SXSW’s usually star-studded Music and Film festivals, many may question the significantly more expensive badge price ($950) for the Interactive festival. While the Interactive panelists may not have Oscars or Grammys, they’ve got brilliant insight into the future of technology that just might revolutionize, well, everything, and even better, they can’t wait to share it.

For panels on social media, the future of news and more, here are just a handful of those participating during Interactive.

Panel Name: Catch Me If You Can: Frank Abagnale 10 Years Later
3:30-4:30 p.m.
Austin Convention Center
Ballroom EF

From 16 to 21, Frank Abagnale was an airline pilot, an attorney, a college professor and a pediatrician; or at least, he was really good at pretending he was. He almost had everyone fooled until the FBI finally busted him for fraudulent checks more than 35 years ago. But now more than 14,000 financial institutions, corporations and law enforcement agencies use his fraud prevention programs. All of this was featured in 2002’s “Catch Me If You Can.” Sit in on this panel for sure-to-be fascinating tales of his past and painfully ironic details of his current association with the FBI. “Normally when I walk up to a podium to speak, it’s to talk about fraud, embezzlement, counterfeiting, identity theft and cyber crime,” Abagnale said. “For SXSW, I’ve been asked to simply talk about my life, how it started and where it has brought me today.” Attend this panel for tales of his past and painfully ironic details of his current association with the FBI.

Panel Name: The View from Inside Rainn Wilson’s Brainstem
5-6 p.m.
Austin Convention Center
Exhibit Hall 5

Rainn Wilson and his son Walter created the SoulPancake website to create an online community to work through some of philosophy’s most perplexing questions. The site features a “questions” tab where registered users can ask questions about life that include the heavy “When is it okay to kill?” and the lighthearted “If you were an action figure, what would you be called?” At this panel, Wilson will discuss the connection between art, creativity and philosophy.

Panel Name: The Rise of Brooklyn Food Scene
11 a.m.-12 p.m.
Driskill Hotel

Momofoku Milk Bar mastermind Christina Tosi, who is behind the infamous cereal milk soft serve that can practically melt taste buds, will join other restaurant owners and New York Times food writer Peter Meehan to talk all things delicious. Foodies from Brooklyn will dish on their rise to the top of the food chain. Tosi said she expects the panel to touch on how to get creative with food. “Whether you’re making food, starting a business, growing a business or trying to get a book deal, I imagine we’ll all bond over the ever grueling, always rewarding journey of writing a cookbook,” she said of her fellow panelists.

Panel Name: The Future of The New York Times
11 a.m.-12 p.m.
Austin Convention Center
Ballroom D

It seems that journalism hasn’t been able to escape being labeled as a “dying industry.” To understand how New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson plans to reverse that notion, be sure to stop by this panel. Abramson will share her views on the future of news with a lens that zooms in on her own New York Times. This discussion will be moderated by the editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune, Evan Smith.

Panel Name: Sneakers & Technology: A True Love Story
11 a.m.-12 p.m.
AT&T Conference Hotel
Classroom 204

With representatives from Converse and Nice Kicks, this panel will make you think differently about what you put on your feet. Sneakers have created their own culture that flaunt status, creativity and now with the hopes of this panel’s presenters, the latest in technology as well.