The Boarder (15)
Directed by: Jolene Adams
Starring: Andy Scott Harris, Leslie Stevens, Carlton Wilborn
Annika Williams (Leslie Stevens) and her husband Zeb (Carlton Wilborn) live a normal suburban life with their teenage children Jarren (Patrick J Nicolas) and Lexi (McKenzie Clayton). After the urging of their local church, the couple decides to adopt Carl (Andy Scott Harris), an orphaned young teenager in need of a home. At first things appear to be going well, but it soon becomes apparent to Annika that Carl has certain emotional issues, and the decision is made for Carl to see psychiatric help, but instead of resolving the issues, they begin to escalate.
The movie starts with the note that the story is based on true stories (as opposed to a true story) suggesting that it is based on more than one true event. Filmed on a small scale, the movie does what it can with the restrictions of filming with a limited budget, but has a distinct ‘tv movie’ feel as a result of this. It’s grounded in reality, with the aim appearing to be to raise awareness of a disorder known as R.A.D. (Reactive Attachment Disorder).
The cast do well in their roles, though occasionally the performances do dip at times into melodrama, though with the movie’s setting this is somewhat unavoidable. The subject is hardly new to film, and though you often hear phrases like ‘it was obvious to anyone outside of the family…’ – there are sequences where this is evident to the audience but not caught by the family. After the family dog is mysteriously killed, the family sits down to dinner and everyone is bereft except for Carl who obviously shows no remorse.
Had this been a big budget movie, you would expect things would have built to a violent and bloody ludicrous set-piece between the characters (the Mark Wahlberg 1996 psychological thriller Fear is a perfect example of how this can nearly destroy a movie). Instead here, events stay largely realistic, focusing more on the wear on the characters’ emotional states than anything else, with violence kept to a minimum. There are sequences later on in the movie containing strong language that are hard to tell if they may be real footage of R.A.D. affected children or if it’s acting.
This is perhaps best watched by anyone who finds themselves in the situation of the family as portrayed, to better explain their understanding of the disorder. I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it especially, but there are worse ‘true story’ movies out there.