Igor is ready for anything for the sake of Polina’s happiness and, in order to make up for the loss of her son, the spouses decide to adopt. But instead of an ordinary boy from the shelter, their family gets not just a “difficult” child.
The loss of a child is a sensitive subject that for some reason continues to be used in television and movies. However, there are times when the development of the story gives us messages that can bring a positive conclusion or a lesson learned. In the case of Evil Boy (2020), we don’t get any.
In Evil Boy, two grieving parents decide to adopt a child after their own went missing three years before. Once arrived at the orphanage, Polina (Elena Lyadova) finds a basement where a guy has shot himself while a kid is running amok in a red gown. The kid manages to escape the basement and when Polina finds him again, she sees how the other kids from the orphanage are bullying him; she decides he’s the one. Even after her husband, Igor (Vladimir Vdovichenkov), is against her decision, the kid still goes home with them and she gives him the same name of their missing child: Vanya. Many weird things happen but Polina still thinks it’s precious how the kid loves to eat raw meat, climb and destroy walls, and bites a huge chunk right of daddy’s arm; Igor isn’t happy and wonders what is wrong with the adopted child. Everything changes when Polina gets pregnant and focuses her attention on her still-to-be-born baby instead of the replacement of her lost child. The kid feels neglected by the only person that cared for him and shifts his energy to making her life impossible by eliminating the competition. By then, Igor loves the new Vanya, because he saw him fly towards another child in the playground. Polina starts to wonder what’s wrong with their adopted child while Igor completely forgot he was attacked several times by the adopted child. By the time Igor gets back to his senses thanks to a freak accident, he decides to investigate the origins of the new Vanya. But, once the return receipt expires, there’s no turning back.
This movie is better described by what other films probably inspire it, in three acts: Mama, The Omen, and Problem Child. The result makes it look like the horrible CGI of the dancing baby from Ally McBeal mixed with whatever the plot for the sequel to Netflix’s Little Evil may be. It’s obvious the idea doesn’t come from a groundbreaking new concept, but it could’ve brought something new to the evil-children theme.
It’s as if the characters are made by the old rule of seeing-is-believing. Whenever something awful happens to each one, they are set to believe something evil is happening with the child. But, if the kid smiles, everything is forgotten. It’s ridiculous how every character never believes in anything even when the writing is on the wall. The child starts to change into their missing kid, and even then they don’t even flinch at how it’s even possible.
And, just like the unresolved lives of the characters, everything else seems unfinished. The storyline starts playing one way and suddenly takes a detour towards the last 15 minutes to toy around with another idea; the ambience isn’t creepy or evil enough to support the actions of the antagonist. And, as for the psychological elements of the film, they’re mentioned but never used to the advantage of saving the slow burning story.
Evil Boy fails at playing with grief in the dullest way possible as the plot never even bothers touching the subject; it acts as a front to a mystery that was never implied to be solved and later tries to justify it as a plot twist. The signs were probably there from the beginning but the reactions from the actors didn’t give much of a hint to wherever the story was going. The amount of drama can’t even save the mystery unapplied in the title as it takes a wild ride through mimicking other films that were the greatest of all time.