Starring: David Wenham; Lynette Curran; Toni Collette; John Polson; Anthony Hayes
Director: Rowan Woods
From the very first grainy video image we know we’re in for something decidedly dark. The accompanying soundtrack by the awesome trio ‘The Necks’ sets the tone in concrete boots. Something bad is going to go down and via a series of flash forwards we slowly begin to understand what. This is The Boys, a frightening expose of a suburban family dominated by a boarder-line psychotic that unravels on the screen like spilled guts.
When the story was first unleashed as a stage play at the tiny Griffin Theatre in Sydney’s Kings Cross there were queues of people stretching down the street. It had hit an exposed nerve ending especially in the wake of the much-publicised Anita Coby murder, a horrific event that provided the initial springboard for Perth-based playwright Gordon Graham. Where, he wanted to know, did this kind of violence come from?
Producer Robert Connolly and director Rowan Woods saw in the play a confronting subject for a film and bravely decided to tackle it for their first feature. They approached another playwright, Steven Sewell, to transform it into a screenplay and he added further dark dimensions to the story including eerie drug-fuelled scenarios that Woods likens to the ending of Apocalypse Now.
In the leading role as anti-hero Brett Sprague, David Wenham is a total knock out, as is Lynette Curran as his ground down mother Sandra. These two had honed their roles in the original stage production and for the film they were supported by stunning performances from Toni Collette as Brett’s gutsy girlfriend Michelle, John Polson and Anthony Hayes as his brothers Glenn and Stevie respectively, and Jeanette Cronin as Glenn’s girl Jackie.
Woods and his Director of Photography Tristan Milani used a precise shooting strategy, which they explain in a DVD extra, where they blended documentary and horror genres. Every lens and camera angle was thought out for maximum psychological impact with the end result being that as a viewer you find yourself becoming more and more unsettled with every shot. While not claiming to pass any judgement on the characters, this film does provide a scary insight into a certain aspect of the Australian male psyche and one that hopefully serves to bring about some changes to it.