THE LONELIEST BOY IN THE WORLD – Review
If you want to get in on the ground floor of a future cult favorite, the little horror comedy THE LONELIEST BOY IN THE WORLD may be your latest ticket. The eponymous lad, Oliver (Max Harwood) was an introverted mama’s boy while she was alive, who we find even more isolated after she’d died in a bizarre accident that traumatized him enough for a stretch in a psych ward. Now he’s trying to live alone in their house, pressured by social workers to prove he can survive that way by making some friends. Quickly. That’s a tough challenge, since he spends most of his time in the cemetery talking to his mom’s grave, or watching the TV shows they used to share. No one else cares about him, apart from some local bullies who torment the hapless oddball whenever he crosses their paths.
Desperately needing a friend, Oliver digs up a recently-deceased fellow who seems promising as a pal because he was popular before his demise, talking to him and watching the same shows at home. That goes so well that he digs up a few more, giving him a new mom, dad and siblings who’d earned their dirt naps in a plane crash. Weird enough for you? It gets even screwier when they start talking back to him, then even more so when these decaying zombies interact with others. These aren’t George Romero’s mindless, lumbering brain-munchers. They’re a friendly, well-intentioned lot who just happen to be in a postmortem state through no fault of their own. They’re less mischievous and more helpful than Cosmo Topper’s George and Marian Kirby, despite looking like extras from “The Walking Dead.”
For comparison of tone and personae, if Bud Cort’s Harold hadn’t met Ruth Gordon’s Maude, he would have tried to emulate Oliver in crafting a life worth living. When a girl who’s new to town (Tallulah Haddon) actually finds him likable, Oliver needs advice from his new pal (Hero Fiennes Tiffin – Hero is really his first name, not a laudatory adjective; and yes, he’s a nephew of Ralph and Joseph) to woo maiden fair. Or even manage a basic conversation with her.
Piers Ashworth, whose experience with the merrily undead includes writing the recent remake of Noel Coward’s comedy “Blithe Spirit,” delivers a script that’s brisk, whimsical and satisfying. The effects and makeup teams make the not-so-living cast members – including a disintegrating doggie – look just icky enough for comedy without risking resurgence of one’s dinner. The action is set in a vaguely 1980s-ish small town environment that underscores Oliver’s innocence and isolation, and complements all that occurs. Director Edward Hall wastes little time in steering the cast through the tale, making this a delightfully dark comedy that many will want to see more than once.
THE LONELIEST BOY IN THE WORLD opens Friday, Oct. 14, in selected theaters and streaming on demand on Oct. 18.
RATING: 2.5 out of 4 stars