★★★★ out of ★★★★★
A troubled teen boy tries to put together a friend and a family consisting of dead people in this poignant, breezy, fanciful fairy tale.
Directed by Martin Owen
U.K. feature The Loneliest Boy in the World is a whimsical take on the zombie subgenre, as young outsider Oliver (Max Harwood), whose mother recently died in a highly unusual home accident, has one week to make a friend or be returned to the psychiatric facility from which he was recently released. He spends his days watching Alf and telling his mother the details of the episodes at her gravesite and is bullied as a weirdo by local boys, so making acquaintances and socializing is no easy task. The recent accidental death of Mitch (Hero Fiennes Tiffin), another young man around his age, and the arrival of new-to-the-town girl Chloe (Tallulah Haddon) give him hope, though, when some of the deceased from a local recent plane crash — along with a small dog — give Oliver the idea of creating a new family, his home becomes weirdly happier for him. Things become even stranger, though, when he wakes up one morning to find that the rotting revenants are animated, talking, and taking to their familial roles.
Director Martin Owen, working from a screenplay by Piers Ashworth (one of the cowriters of the 2020 film adaptation of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit), has crafted a fanciful, highly stylized world in which the 1980s pop culture and 1950s and 1960s styles meet. The result is a big-hearted zombie fairy tale with obvious Tim Burton influence and references to other films, including a blatant nod to Weekend at Bernie’s, which ultimately is its own offbeat beast. With gorgeous art direction and fine performances, led by a delightfully quirky performance by Harwood as the oddball everyman protagonist, The Loneliest Boy in the World is a charming, waggish watch.
Review by Joseph Perry
The Loneliest Boy in the World screened as part of Popcorn Frights, which took place as a hybrid event, in person in Miami and Fort Lauderdale and with a virtual program online, from August 11–August 22, 2022. For more information, visit https://popcornfrights.com/.
Well Go USA will release The Loneliest Boy in the World on Blu-ray and DVD on December 20, 2022.