‘Boy Kills World’ Review – A Punch-Drunk Lobotomy To The Action Genre

Bill Skarsgård in Boy Kills World courtesy of Roadside Attractions.
Bill Skarsgård in Boy Kills World courtesy of Roadside Attractions.

In Boy Kills World audiences are introduced to Hilda van der Koy (Famke Janssen) and her family, who yearly hold what is known as The Culling, where they dispose of everyone the family considers their enemy. A nameless Boy survives after the van der Koys murder his mother and sister. 

The attack leaves him deaf and mute, but he borrows his inner voice from the arcade fighting game he and his sister used to play (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin). A shaman (Yayan Ruhian) trains him in martial arts for the sole purpose of assassinating Hilda. Now, as an adult, Boy (Bill Skarsgård) sets out to get revenge for his family.

Brett Gelman in Boy Kills World courtesy of Roadside Attractions.

Four major production companies produce Boy Kills World: Hammerstone Studios (Sympathy for the Devil, Barbarian), Sam Raimi and Raimi Productions, Vertigo Entertainment (Doctor Sleep, It), and Nthibah Pictures. 

When the film was announced in October 2021, Nthibah CEO Simon Swart described it as having “a stylized look that is fresh, cool, and original, borrowing from the best of graphic novels.”

Isaiah Mustafa in Boy Kills World courtesy of Roadside Attractions.

Visually, Boy Kills World is oversaturated with extremely bright colors, like everything shot in the film went through the Lark or Clarendon Instagram filter multiple times. 

The action comedy looks a lot like the 2019 film Guns Akimbo, which is a fun coincidence since the action and fight choreographies in Boy Kills World are also coordinated by martial artist Dawid Szatarski.

Famke Janssen in Boy Kills World courtesy of Roadside Attractions.

Szatarski started his fight choreographer and stunt career in Tony Jaa’s Ong Bak 3. He’s worked on the Kingsman films, Wonder Woman, Guns Akimbo, and Black Widow. This is worth noting since Boy Kills World has action sequences that look like all of these films combined, and it probably sounds good on paper.

However, every action sequence feels similar, kind of like a Zack Snyder film with lots of ADHD moments of slow-motion one moment and sped-up action the next. Every fight plays out like this, followed by a moment or two of stylized gore, like a gunshot to the head or a limb being cut off and a gush of blood.

The fight choreography would be more enjoyable if Peter Matjasko’s cinematography wasn’t so hyperactive. The camera constantly moves in Boy Kills World, especially during the fight scenes. It always makes these grand swopping motions when someone slides across the ground or goes for a leg sweep. Matjasko seems to be going for being that unseen person in the fight to try and make you feel like the audience is a part of it, but it only comes off as obnoxious.

The Van Der Koy family consists of Hilda, her brother Gideon (Brett Gelman), her sister Melanie (Michelle Dockery), and Melanie’s fiancé Glen (Sharlto Copley). Interestingly, this is the second Sharlto Copley film to come out this year since Boy Kills World has much in common story-wise with Monkey Man. The main character of each film is out for vengeance and fights through a bunch of goons and secondary villains before reaching the final boss on the other end of an elevator.

Jessica Rothe in Boy Kills World courtesy of Roadside Attractions.

Director and screen story writer Moritz Mohr pitched Boy Kills World as a short film before the pandemic. Boy Kills World has a screenplay by Tyler Burton Smith (the 2019 Child’s Play remake) and Arend Remmers with a screen story by Remmers and Mohr.

The story has some foreseeable twists and turns, especially regarding a character known as June 27 (Jessica Rothe), who is the female muscle of the van der Koy family. She runs around in a motorcycle jacket with her abs hanging out and a Daft Punk helmet that serves no purpose. This helmet displays words and exclamations throughout the film, and it’s mind-boggling why it is never given to a character who doesn’t have the ability to speak.

Yayan Ruhian in Boy Kills World courtesy of Roadside Attractions.

The humor in the film is juvenile and doesn’t work. Bill Skarsgård with H. Jon Benjamin’s voice only goes so far and makes less and less sense when Skarsgård’s Boy character starts yelling in his actual voice near the end of the film. The comedic highlight is Bennie (Isaiah Mustafa). Boy reads everyone’s lips to understand what they’re saying, but he can never get a clear read on Bennie. The gibberish he tries to comprehend results in some semi-amusing cutaways.

Its repetitive nature and whooshing cinematography ruin the action, and the comedy side of the film seems like it was written by a 12-year-old. A simple story devolves into an incomprehensible mess, and the film feels excruciatingly long for being under two hours in length. Boy Kills World is a punch-drunk lobotomy to the action genre.

Bill Skarsgård in Boy Kills World courtesy of Roadside Attractions.

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Boy Kills World (2024), Lionsgate



  • Action is decent at times.


  • Horrid humor.
  • Dizzying camera.
  • Questionable writing.
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