Boy 5 pic #1

Arrow Video Frightfest 2021 – Film Review – Boy#5 (2021)


Marjorie is an overburdened social worker plagued by guilt after one of her young charges takes a fatal heroin overdose. Struggling to tread water in an underfunded workplace and traumatised by the suicide she witnessed her mental health is more compromised than she is willing to admit.

Homeless youth Nathan crash lands into her fragile world after being arrested for killing and eating a dog and assaulting a policeman. As Marjorie strives to find the key to unlock his guarded quiteness she becomes sucked into his fantastical and highly disturbing narrative.

Crafted for less than £10,000, using unknown actors cast locally, Boy# 5 represents a triumph of artistic dedication over the manacles of meager resources. In Blending social hyper-realism and the Vampire lore of classic literature, director/writer Eric Steele has landed a telling blow for independent filmmakers everywhere. The fact it is a debut feature shows astonishing aptitude and creative confidence.

His film appears to emanate from an ethereal no-mans-land between the imaginations of Ken Loach and George A. Romero that nobody else knew existed. A fly-on-the-wall care system procedural that embraces the disillusionment of the kitchen sink drama as readily as it does the tortured romanticism of blood-sucking immortality.

Weighing in at a spritely 72 minutes, Boy #5 still manages to find a wide enough window to be thematically enriching. The destructive radius of addiction, the combustible nature of professional surety, and the vulnerability of grief are all put up for discussion.

However, the film’s core agenda seems to be the indifference of the current UK government towards mental health and child homelessness. Never preachy, always believable, it fashions a credible world from reclaimed fabric and uses it to enrobe a metaphor for an all too commonplace endgame.

Whether you view the acting through the prism of inexperience or not, you have to admire the organic honesty and bravery of the performances.

Laura Montgomery Bennett adds a gentle mania to her finely judged portrayal of the mumsy Marjorie that underscores her gradual arc into the orbit of obsession. Understated and refreshingly free from melodramatic meltdown, it’s a fascinating depiction of a world-weary woman looking for redemption in the abattoir of animalistic compulsion.

Lennon Leckey’s Nathan is a powder keg of moody angst who rocks a novel method of escaping the consequences of his deadly thirst. He simply feeds up and hibernates for decades, like a vampiric cave bear, until anyone privy to his secret is hushed by death. He is a communicational spike trap of a character and Leckey unearths expressionism in the umbra of his silence.

Boy# 5 approaches bloodlust with a rebellious vigor that picks and chooses from a wealth of horror tropes ranging from Rabid to Renfield. Nathan is fangless, preferring instead the wormy proboscis of an under tongue feasting apparatus. He can remain unsmoked in sunlight and has no need for a comfy coffin to aid his slumber. Nor can he morph into a squeaking bat. Quite if Nathan entrances Marjorie with hypnotic stares into becoming a complicit familiar is left deliciously hanging.

The best moments of vampire purist baiting come in a sequence of rare humour when Marjorie visits a Manchester chapter of self-confessed blood slurpers. Her frank search for answers eliciting confused derision from some pretentious gothic edgelords who suddenly fear they might not be as subversive and enigmatic as they presume. It’s a scene What We Do in the Shadows would have killed for.

A mention should also be made of the ingenious music choices that serenade Boy# 5, almost exclusively from the extraordinarily emotive canon of  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. One wonders what the excentric maestro would have made of his Concertos and Requiem’s being repurposed as a soundtrack to such a financially modest examination of cursed craving. I rather think he would have embraced the notion.

Either way, it is edifyingly typical of a truly independent film that stoically refuses to let piles of money block the gateways of visionary cinema.



Social Realism, Drama, Vampire Horror | UK, 2021 | 72 mins | Dir. Eric Ian Steele | With: Laura Montgomery Bennett, Lennon Leckey, Natasha Naomi Rea, Adrian Palme