A boy blackmails his neighbour after suspecting him to be a Nazi war criminal.
After reading the novella the book was based on, I just had to watch the movie.
As usual, I immediately noticed the differences. The opening scene shows a quiet, brooding Todd Bowden while the first few pages of the story portray an eerily cheery blond, blue eyed boy with a constant pearly white smile pasted on his face, which in my opinion made the character all the more creepy.
The opening credits are quite well done. The soundtrack adds to the chill factor,as it does in other moments throughout the movie.
We move on to the first interaction between Todd and Dussander and I was just as unimpressed. Todd just did not freak me out one bit and he felt much too normal, unlike on the book, where you could tell something was wrong. Dussander took Todd’s blackmail much too easily as well, so another disappointment.
I know movie adaptations are just that, adaptations, and that it is nearly if not utterly impossible to reproduce the feeling of a written story. However, the entire dynamic between those two was just too different. Dussander is never in a fragile state. There is no subtle psychological pressure and absolute control on Todd’s side, he just sounds like a curious, spoiled brat.
In the book the tension builds because the entire ordeal is much too difficult for Dussander in the beginning and as it evolves. In the movie he just goes on to tell about the things that supposedly tormented him. The fact is Dussander makes Todd in the movie, while in the book the boy has a growth of his own and plenty to work out for himself while trying to deal with something that is way over his head.
The insertion of an attempt at romance and a best friend for Todd are both unnecessary and don’t add anything positive to the story in my opinion, particularly the friend, as the relationship and consequences that it entails are supposed to be a private matter for Todd and Dussander. On the other hand, the dialogues between the two main characters almost get dull at times. I just did not feel shocked or very entertained, not nearly as much as with the book.
It gets much better towards the end and I am sure that had I not read the written story I would have enjoyed the movie much better.
My recommendation is that, if you want to watch it, don’t read the story first. It is highly disturbing, it might even give you nightmares. The movie… not so much.