Boy Kills World: Narration changed for theatrical release?

The version of Boy Kills World that hit theaters this weekend was different than the version that played TIFF Midnight Madness in the fall.

It’s happened before, and it will happen again. Sometimes, a movie plays a film fest, gets picked up by a studio, and is changed. That’s exactly what happened to Boy Kills World, a movie I saw (and enjoyed) at TIFF’s Midnight Madness. The film had a pretty dire opening at the box office this weekend, barely cracking the top 10. But the cut folks saw (or didn’t) this weekend was not the same as what I saw originally at TIFF back in September.

So what’s different? If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know that the entire film is narrated by Bill Skarsgard’s “Boy” character (who is deaf and mute) via his interior monologue. However, Skarsgard himself doesn’t provide the voice-over, which H. Jon Benjamin of Archer fame does. The conceit is that the narration is the last voice “Boy” heard before going deaf, being the voice of an over-the-top 80s-style arcade game. In the version that I saw originally, this idea was dropped, with Skarsgard narrating the whole film himself in an unaffected voice. I believe there’s yet another cut out there where Skarsgard himself does the video game voice, which was teased in a promo trailer that leaked months before the movie played TIFF.

So, how does the change affect the finished film?

For one thing, the first act of the film now plays a lot more comedically, although having seen the new cut, I did notice that as the film goes on there’s a lot less narration than there was originally. This makes the more dramatic second half of the film land a bit differently.

To be fair, I enjoyed both versions of Boy Kills World. I was originally dead-set against the idea of Benjamin doing a silly narration job, as it felt like a slight against Skarsgard’s terrific performance. Still, it works decently well in the film itself, so this isn’t a case where the original cut is some masterpiece and this a hack job. Both versions of the film are good. With the film opening so modestly at the box office, it’ll be interesting to see if any original cuts ever surface. Maybe somewhere down the line, a cult company like Arrow will give this a 4K release with some of the original cuts included.

Boy Kills World hits theaters on April 26th.

Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/boy-kills-world-narration/

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