This coming-of-age drama from Australia gives us a glimpse of how Halloween is celebrated down under, and it is gorgeous. It is also set in the '90s, so we get some nostalgic tunes from Presidents of the United States, Marilyn Manson, Bush, and more. The Halloween imagery has a distinct vintage feel, especially with the costumes some creepy kids wear in the opening scenes as well as the Halloween decorations used throughout the film. It features some truly eerie scenes and blends fantasy with elements of horror, coming-of-age tale, and drama to create a beautiful but heartbreaking film. Read more about Boys in Trees below!
Synopsis: Alienated teens Corey and Jonah begrudgingly find themselves walking home together on Halloween 1997, their last night of high school in Australia. What starts off as a normal walk through empty streets descends into something darker and magical as they share memories, ghost stories, and fears, and Corey realizes just how much he still has in common with the friend he abandoned. As the veil thins on All Hallow's Eve, even the most buried truths find a way of coming to life.
I really loved everything about this film, and the whole dark story it told. A few favorite scenes stand out, like when Corey complains that Halloween was just invented by Americans to sell candy and the montage featuring Corey's group of friends getting ready for Halloween night and putting on their costumes to the tune of Marilyn Manson's "The Beautiful People" - serious swoons with that scene! The rest of the film is set on Halloween night, with everyone wearing costumes, neighborhoods decorated for Halloween (I honestly had no idea they had trick or treating in Australia!), and everything gorgeously lit in neon and candlelight. There is even a Dia de los Muertos-inspired scene that is a pivotal turning point in the movie, and it is jaw-droppingly beautiful.
The story itself is something many can relate to - loss of innocence, growing up, perhaps turning your back on your friends in favor of popularity or being left behind by friends, the struggle between choosing ambition and a life outside your small town or sticking with what is familiar, as well as heavier topics. I don't want to get too much into this as it may give too much away, but I thought the characters' stories were told wonderfully and magically. The film made you think like a kid again, where everything was magical and anything was possible, but then the shadow of reality would darken the characters' memories, which made it all the more realistic for me. Who wouldn't want to live in a magical fantasy world, but even though you can entertain the notion for perhaps a little while, reality will always come crashing down.
That last sentence makes Boys in the Trees seem like a total downer, but it isn't! It's the kind of film that shows that there is still magic within you even if you don't think there is, and there is always a chance for magic to happen if you let it, no matter how hardened you think you've become. And Halloween is a perfect night for this film to be set, as the veil is thinner and just might allow some of the magical spirit to slip through. However, the following poem from Arthur Cleveland Coxe is recited throughout the film and warns:
"Tis the night—the night
Of the grave's delight,
And the warlocks are at their play;
Ye think that without,
The wild winds shout,
But no, it is they—it is they!"
Check out this film on Netflix if you are looking for some dark Halloween spirit!