Boys in the Trees (2016) is a powerful coming of age film that pays service to the frustration and fears of even its most irredeemable characters. Written and Directed by Nicolas Verso, the film explores the people we become, and the people we leave behind. An official selection of the Toronto International Film Festival and a world premiere at the 2016 Venice Film Festival, Boys in the Trees has attracted some very well earned attention in the festival circuit. With several award nominations including wins for Best Narrative Feature Film and Best Narrative Screenplay (Unproduced). We caught the film at the Overlook Film Festival earlier this year with a sobbing audience (ourselves included) and Boys in the Trees has remained, for us, one of the most impressive films of 2017.

Corey (Toby Wallace) and Jonah (Gulliver McGrath) are childhood chums, whose friendship has deteriorated since their carefree days as youngsters. Corey has since traded in the imaginative walks he and Jonah would take through the woods for the unfiltered thrill of bullying and drinking in skate-parks with a more rough-and-tumble bunch of punks. Jonah, on the other hand, has never forgotten how important their friendship was to him. On Halloween night 1997, Jonah coerces Corey into one last walk through the woods.

As boys, they would pretend the forest path was a passage to other worlds. They would tell each other stories of the spirits that haunted to land, and the monster that roamed the earth. Corey, now mates with the group that terrorizes Jonah regularly, is reluctant to humor Jonah and his tall-tales. Trying desperately to outrun the bullies nipping at their heels (lest he be seen fraternizing with the enemy) Corey is forced to play along as Jonah attempts to reprise a relationship that, sadly, died many years ago.

Realizing that the decisions we make directly effect other people is a fundamental aspect of growing up. We see the rift that separated our two leads growing between Corey and his new group of hooligans as he prepares to leave for University. For Corey, friendship is something that is best when it’s easy. When everything is going smooth and everyone is having fun, nothing can go wrong. But it’s when life gets hard that the people closest to you, need you the most. Only now, under the lure of his oldest friend, does Corey see beyond the veil of his childhood, into the dark and tragic world that awaits him.

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Boys in the Trees is a modern fairy tale for a generation raised on Goosebumps and Marilyn Manson. With fantastical elements peppered throughout, Nicolas Verso brings viewers a touching and frightening story of two estranged friends on a surreal journey through their memories, dreams, and fears.

3.5/4 eberts


Presented by Mushroom Pictures, Boys in the Trees is now streaming on Netflix.


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