Magazine article Screen International

'Boys in the Trees': Venice Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Boys in the Trees': Venice Review

Article excerpt

Dir/scr. Nicholas Verso. Australia, 2016, 112 mins.

Following closely in the footsteps of fellow Australian coming-of-age film Girl Asleep, writer/director Nicholas Verso's evocative feature debut conjures a distinctive teen tale that flits between suburban adolescent hijinks and something more hallucinatory. Boys in the Trees demonstrates an increasing willingness to experiment with genre boundaries and different ways to tell familiar narratives.

Set for release in Australia in late October to capitalise on its Hallowe'en theme, Verso's melancholic, supernaturally-infused horror could also garner modest interest and festival play in international markets.

Set in 1997 with attentive production design and a well-selected, nostalgic soundtrack to match, the '80s influences of Steven Spielberg, Richard Donner and Joe Dante are evident here and are likely to provoke comparisons to Netflix's recent hit Stranger Things, although the mood is more contemplative.

Aspiring photographer Corey (Toby Wallace) seems mismatched with his skater thug mates led by bully Jango (Justin Holborow). He's hesitant as they pick on outcast Jonah (Gulliver McGrath), but not enough to stop a trick-or-treating attack on his house. It's only as the group drinks and smokes in a graveyard, and Corey warms to classmate Romany (Mitzi Ruhlmann), that he veers offin his own direction. Crossing paths with Jonah on the way home, the former childhood buddies rekindle one of their favourite games.

Walking, talking, telling spooky tales and testing each other's fears used to be their chosen pastime, and now they're older, it feeds into the anxiety of leaving behind their tree-climbing, costume-wearing youth. …

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