Tuesday, December 20, 2022

The Loneliest Boy in the World

Oliver is fortunate to be re-entering the world in 1987, having somewhat recovered from witnessing the horrific death of his sheltering widowed-mom. If he were released from his institution into today’s society, he would be constantly admonished to admit his “privilege.” He is a good kid, but he has had a hard time of it. When given the ultimatum: finds some friends or head back to institution, he logically heads to the cemetery in Martin Owen’s The Loneliest Boy in the World, which releases today on DVD.

Maybe Margot, Oliver’s social worker, genuinely wants to help him, but Julius the head-shrinker, only wants to confirm his negative diagnosis the court disregarded when it ordered the boy’s release. Regardless, social services apparently considers it perfectly fine for the teen to live by himself in his mother’s retro-1950s house out on the outskirts of town. Seriously, the 1980s really were totally awesome.

Charged with proving his improved socialization, Oliver somewhat ill-advisedly digs up the corpses of several recently deceased accident victims and takes them home with him. Through some twist of magical realism, they transform into sentient zombies overnight. Suddenly, the late Frank and Suzanne, who had nothing in common during their mortal lives, are happy to act like picture perfect sitcom parents for Oliver. The bratty Mel is now his cheerful little sister, Mitch is his new best friend (who always sleeps over), and they even have a zombie dachshund.

None of these transformations make sense—and screenwriter Piers Ashworth (working on a story co-written with Brad Wyman and Emilio Estevez) never even tries to explain any of it.
Loneliest Boy is meant to be a fable and a bit of a love letter to the 1980s. Weirdly, the film sort of works as both.

Once you get past that “I don’t get it” resistance, the film’s sweetness will start to work on you. Max Harwood is achingly earnest as Oliver and he develops some rather endearing chemistry with Tallulah Haddon, playing his prospective girlfriend Chloe. Susan Wokoma and Ben Miller handle most of the gross-out humor as Suzanne and Frank, but Hero Fiennes Tiffin lands more laughs as the life-of-the-party (even in death) Mitch.

It is a bit surprising a scrappy film like this could license Ray Parker Jr.’s “Ghostbusters” theme song, but they did. It definitely intensifies the 80s vibe. It seems like such an innocent time in retrospect, compared the shout-down, tribalistic, confrontational cancel-culture tenor of our current times. Owen conveys the sweetness of that nostalgia, without getting overly sentimental (or pedantically logical either). It is definitely glosses over a lot, but it is quite appealing while doing so. Recommended for fans of horror-related comedies,
The Loneliest Boy in the World releases today (12/20) on DVD and BluRay.