A coming-of-age story in a comedy horror costume – that’s what The Loneliest Boy in the World is all about.

Katarzyna Kebernik

24 February 2023

Let’s take a handful of specific humor, zombies, a coming of age story, a lot of nostalgia for the 80s, a pinch of grossness and teenage love of two misfits – and we will get The Loneliest Boy in the World. Does this mish-mash result in a successful black comedy? It is certainly not a film without flaws, but intriguing and charming enough that it may turn out to be a proposal that will perfectly suit your taste.

The main character, Oliver (Max Harwood), is an orphan. He lives alone, has no friends, but does not feel any particular regret about it. He’s a rather antisocial boy, and the film clearly shows us how odd Oliver behaves in social interactions. Finally, the couple of social workers who look after the boy give him an ultimatum – either find a friend and prove that he can create relationships; or will end up in a care center as a person classified as unfit to function independently in society. A desperate boy decides on a move that seems logical only in his head – he digs up several corpses from the nearby cemetery, which they are supposed to pose to the social services of strangely taciturn acquaintances who visit him. On Halloween night, however, something amazing happens: a corpse comes to life. Thus, a cheerful group of rotting zombies appears in Oliver’s house: motherly and protective Susanne (Susan Wokoma), tough guy with a good heart Frank (Ben Miller), feisty and athletic Mitch (Hero Fiennes Tiffin), energetic girl Mel (Zenobia Williams) and noisy dachshund (CGI).

Unusual on typical topics

The biggest challenge for the viewer and the weakest element of the film is its beginning. Until the time when the corpses brought from the cemetery come to life on Halloween night, we are condemned to the rather tiring company of the main character. He is not a character who easily wins sympathy. The eponymous “loneliest boy in the world” is a person who is clearly disturbed and socially maladjusted, but not in such an attractive, “film” way – he does not arouse pity and understanding like Phoenix’s Joker, he is not stylish and intriguingly eccentric like Ortega’s Wednesday. We find it difficult to like this character until the very end: the dispassionate way in which he recalls the death of his mother or runs over the dog makes it hard to identify with him, and also to sympathize with him. On the other hand, I respect that the creators had the courage not to romanticize being “weird” and “different”, not to present these qualities as “cool” in the understanding of the average recipient. It also makes us believe that Oliver really can have relationship issues and that other people have reasons to avoid him.

When dead bodies come to life and Oliver gains a family – then the film unexpectedly becomes interesting and gains expressive characters, it can even be touching. Zombies become a full-fledged family of the main character, teach him about life, advise him on love matters. Thanks to them, Oliver is clearly changing for the better. I especially liked the character of Mitch, who for the main character is something between an older brother and mentor and a best friend who constantly encourages him to do crazy things. He is such an honest and faithful, yet funny and smart friend that everyone would like to have.

A coming-of-age story in a comedy horror costume – that’s what The Loneliest Boy in the World is all about. The creators skillfully play with the atmosphere of the 80s and create an atmosphere of strangeness, but it is still a film too conservative to win a special place for itself in the hearts of fans of the Tim Burton-à la aesthetic. It is also too little “crazy” to satisfy lovers of horror and extreme cinema. He’s just like the main character – different. Therefore, I encourage you to set yourself up for nothing, give it a chance and form your own opinion.

Katarzyna Kebernik

Katarzyna Kebernik

She lives for reading, watching, listening and telling stories.

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