Boys in the Trees is a magical dark fairytale that embodies nostalgia and Halloween.
Boys in the Trees is a dark coming-of-age fairytale that plays out during Halloween in the nineties. With a nostalgic feel and a surreal atmosphere this melancholic tale is brought to life in a beautiful way. It’s about the power of stories, of not wanting to grow up. It’s a film that connects different Halloween themed tales into a journey of self-discovery in a dream-like vibe. Fantasy, fiction and reality blend together in this time of year where the boundaries between what’s real and what’s not, fade away which results in a wonderful symbolical tale.
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It’s 1997 and Corey lives in a town in Australia and it’s Halloween. He’s a skateboarder but wants to study in New York, to become a photographer. But for now he belongs to a group of skateboarders who call themselves the wolves of the jungle. Most of them are bullies and target Jonah, who once was Corey’s best friend. When Jonah gets hurt he and Corey reconnect and Jonah takes him on a journey to their childhood games, showing and telling him different stories. They cross the bridge where they used to play, and where now the veil between reality and fantasy is thinnest. That night will become a night of many discoveries.
Why you should watch it
Boys in the Trees is a beautiful and imaginative coming-of-age story that is very impressive. It contains many themes about growing up, and what that entails. These themes are shown and told by Jonah in different spooky tales. They visit different places, their school, an old house, a sewer tunnel, and the tree that once was their secret hide out. The atmosphere of these stories is very nostalgic, not only for Corey, whose life is about to change, but for everyone who went through the change of growing up, leaving your childhood life behind and start something new.
The first story Jonah tells Corey is about two sisters who played fantasy games. But when the oldest sister is taken by two boys, wolves, the youngest sister wants to follow them, but gets lost in the sewers. It’s a metaphor about what happened between Jonah and Corey. Jonah was left behind, as a ghost to Corey who has forgotten about him.
The second story is about a boy who had big dreams. But when he grew up, these dreams stayed unfulfilled and he locked them away. Then the dreams came back to haunt him. Jonah tries to tell Corey to follow his dreams even when he is all grown up.
The third story is about Jonah himself and how he proved to be different from the predatory wolf boys and had to run and hide.
Each story Jonah tells, comes to life and blends with reality. The ghost of the little girl appears, the wolves become real and the shadowy dreams come to life. Every story Jonah tells Corey contains a lesson. They’re warnings and confront Corey with his own behavior. The way the stories are told and are given life is beautifully done and create a dark fairytale vibe. These spooky fairytales come even more to life because during Halloween the veil between reality and fiction is nearly gone and the game they played as little boys, Colyte, brings their stories to life.
The dream-like style, the spooky stories, the atmosphere of anticipation, the surreal imagery, the fairytale vibe, the wonderful mix of fiction and reality, the symbolism, the themes of growing up and choosing your own identity are wonderfully intertwined and make up for one big fantastical, imaginative tale. It shows how different choices can haunt you, for the ending contains a very sad and tragic twist.
The art decoration breaths the atmosphere of Halloween, although not only in a conventional way. Kids in costumes going trick or treating, decorated houses, but also Dias de los Muertos all create that Halloween vibe, but at the same time serve as symbolical elements.
Boys in the Trees is an enticing and enchanting story that with its beautiful storytelling and cinematography will bewitch you. It’s a very unique story with an authentic voice that has something to tell and show, but doesn’t forget to entertain and create a wonderful story with a heartbreaking twist.
My favorite part
The way the three spooky stories are all metaphors for the relationship between Jonah and Corey and are symbols of themselves and are intertwined with the overarching story is just amazingly done. They reinforce each other, bringing the big story arc to a higher level and becomes more than a coming-of-age story. The nostalgic vibe that is centered around two boys who played a fantasy game is a wonderful concept that is very fitting during Halloween. As is the ending that was the most upsetting part of the story. It’s a film that appeals to different emotions about identity and friendship.
Scare factor: ★★☆☆☆
Surreal factor: ★★★★☆
Nostalgic factor: ★★★★★
Originality factor: ★★★★★
Entertainment factor: ★★★★★
Cast and crew
Boy in the Trees is directed and written by Nicholas Verso. It stars Toby Wallace (Corey), Gulliver McGrath (Jonah), Mitzi Ruhlmann (Romany) and Justin Holborow (Jango).
Duration: 112 minutes. Music: Shinjuku Thief, Darrin Verhagen. Cinematography: Marden Dean. Edited by: Nicholas Verso. Produced by: John Molloy. Production companies: Mushroom Pictures, Best FX Adelaide, White Hot Productions. Distributed by: Eagle Films.