Discovery

Boys in the Trees

Nicholas Verso

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Dazzling, spooky, and emotionally rich, the feature debut from Australian director Nicholas Verso is a unique coming-of-age tale about teenage former friends whose all-night trek one fateful Halloween night becomes half descent into old fears and nightmares, half reckoning with the future.

The feature debut from Australian director Nicholas Verso takes us on a nocturnal odyssey that slips seamlessly between the familiar and the hallucinatory. Dazzling, spooky, and emotionally rich, Boys in the Trees is a unique coming-of-age tale, a reminder that in order to embrace the fullness of life we must be aware of the proximity of death.

The year is 1997. Corey (Toby Wallace) and Jonah (Gulliver McGrath) were friends when they were little, but the cruel caprices of adolescence gradually rendered Jonah a pariah while Corey was welcomed into a fold of skateboarding bullies. Halloween arrives, and Corey's friends get suited up for a night of weed smoking, drinking, vandalism, and girl chasing — in other words, business as usual. But Corey, who can no longer countenance the skaters' merciless harassment of Jonah, winds up taking on a very different itinerary. He finds Jonah and together the boys go on an all-night trek that's half descent into old fears and nightmares, half reckoning with the future.

Verso's teenage characters are perched between ruthless tribalism and tender compassion, between aimlessness and a sense of purpose. Given that this story unfolds over the course of an afternoon and deep into Halloween night, they are also on the border separating the comforts of daytime and the eeriness of twilight. Some of the suburban territories they stumble into seem to contain a parallel realm of supernatural forebodings, but by the end of Boys in the Trees the scariest thing Corey and Jonah face will be the one that waits for all of us: real life.

JANE SCHOETTLE

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