Even though the inspirations behind The Loneliest Boy in the World are fairly obvious, it is a film with an identity crisis. The tone oscillates between gruesomely disgusting and sickly sweet, with both often actively working against each other. Even more confused is the sense of space, with a setting that is intended to be America despite being shot in a gloomy UK city. Having the story set during the 1980s for no discernible reason just adds to the confusion of the overall experience.
The biggest issue of the film is a protagonist that is extremely difficult to like, both because of the way he is written and portrayed. Oliver (Max Harwood) is a socially withdrawn oddball following the accidental death of his mother, but one gets the impression he was developmentally stunted even before her demise. Giving off shades of Norman Bates and awkwardly forced attempts at innocent charm, Harwood would have been better off if this character ended up in an actual horror movie. Instead, the script tries desperately to get the audience to root for and relate to him, but even the inclusion of contrived and cliché bullying sequence is not enough to make him the least bit likeable.
The answer to Oliver’s already weird behavior is to then have him affected by either a mental break or some type of fantasy in which dead bodies he digs up from the local cemetery become reanimated. Instead of horror carnage as most would expect from a zombie film, these undead just become Oliver’s makeshift family and friends. With varying success (ranging from bad to non-existent), these four undead friends put on their best American accent and play house for Oliver as he builds the confidence to become friends with a local girl named Chloe (Tallulah Haddon).
I get what The Loneliest Boy in the World was going for. It couldn’t be more obvious that director Martin Owen intended to duplicate Tim Burton’s use of dark imagery and oddball characters in a romance, like Edward Scissorhands with toothless zombies. The only thing Owen has proved is that Burton is not a filmmaker easily imitated. The Loneliest Boy in the World doesn’t have much of anything that works, from the horror to the romance. Worst of all, it is a dull film. This doesn’t even work as something to have on in the background, because the exaggerated and unrealistic performances are grating when they should be endearing.
The Blu-ray release of The Loneliest Boy in the World comes with a behind-the-scenes featurette for those who want to punish themselves further by listening to those who made the film try their hardest to defend and praise a movie that doesn’t deserve it. There is also a trailer.
Entertainment Value: 4/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 3.5/10
Historical Significance: 0/10
Special Features: 3/10