Australian Council on Children and the Media

Boys in the Trees

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Short takes

Not recommended under 15 due to disturbing scenes and themes, violence, coarse language and drug use.

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Boys in the Trees
  • a review of Boys in the Trees completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 25 October 2016.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 15 Not recommended due to violence, disturbing scenes and themes, coarse language and drug use.
Viewers 15 and over OK for this group, but parents may wish to discuss some of the film's themes and issues with their children.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Boys in the Trees
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Mature themes, violence, coarse language, sexual references and drug use
Length 108 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

It's Halloween1997 in suburban Australia. Corey (Toby Wallace) and his skater friends have just finished their final day of high school ever, and are going to celebrate with a wild night full of booze, drugs and mischief. Corey is not so sure he likes the plans that his friends have for the evening and decides to take a walk on his own.

He finds himself back at the skate park in the company of an old childhood friend that he grew up with. The two boys have grown apart through the years and now Corey is part of the popular gang whilst his old friend Jonah (Gulliver McGrath) is the school outcast. The two boys revisit their friendship and play a familiar game of dare that takes them into some dark and spooky places full of ghosts and demons.

The night is a surreal journey between past and present and it becomes clear that there is a shared trauma in their past. Corey must find a way to put his guilt to rest and move on.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Bullying; rape; self-harm; death and suicide; sexuality; the supernatural

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There are many scenes of violence in this movie including:

  • Scenes of older teenage boys fighting and punching each other.
  • A scene where two young boys are assaulted and rape is implied (but not shown graphically).
  • Many incidents of extreme verbal aggression and violent threats.
  • Destruction and vandalism of property.
  • A demon-like creature is seen gouging out a man’s eyes with its fingernails.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Many scenes showing children and teenagers in very scary Halloween costumes and masks, such as scary clown and wolf masks, a cloth bag with eyes cut out and painted skulls.
  • There are many scenes showing boys bullying Jonah. For example; chasing him through the school ground, throwing a dead bird at his bedroom window, writing 'FAG' on his locker, punching him etc.
  • 'Death' is symbolised by an Aboriginal man in a white suit and hat who appears as an apparition throughout the film.
  • Corey and Jonah must walk through a dark, dimly lit forest. This scene is accompanied by atmospheric tense music.
  • The film has several 'ghost stories' within it, such as a girl haunting a storm drain who appears when you light a match.
  • The gang of boys are sometimes transformed into wolf-like apparitions with glowing eyes.
  • There are some scenes where demons appear out of the trees and scurry around trying to grab the boys.
  • Jonah finds his friend dead and is seen in great trauma and distress
  • Two young boys are assaulted in a disused tunnel. The scene is not graphic but it's very distressing and it's implied that they have been raped.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the above-mentioned scenes

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger viewers in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • A girl licks a lollipop seductively
  • One of the teenage boys says they are going to look for 'bitches to fuck'.
  • There are some confusing scenes with mild homoeroticism.
  • There is a theme of discrimination against homosexuals

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Romance between a central character and a girl leading to sexual intercourse. This is implied by them lying naked in bed together but is not explicitly shown.
  • Teenagers kissing.
  • Sexual assault of two young boys.

Use of substances

There are many instances of substance use in this movie, including:

  • Teenagers stealing bottles of spirits from a parent's house and drinking alcohol.
  • Teenagers smoking marijuana
  • Teenagers inhaling nitrous oxide.
  • Teenagers smoking cigarettes.
  • In one scene the camera work gives the perspective of someone who is drunk.

Coarse language

There is a lot of coarse language used aggressively in this movie, including:

  • "What the fuck, are you blind faggot, are you fucking mute as well? You little fag".
  • "My panties are fine fuck-knuckle"
  • "Weed to smoke, bitches to fuck and fags to bash"
  • "dickhead"

In a nutshell

Boys in the Trees is a dark and slightly convoluted film that explores what it is like to be a boy on the cusp of manhood. It ambitiously tackles sticky issues of masculine friendships, male affection and aggression, childhood trauma, self-harm and suicide. This is an emotional and sometimes quite disturbing film which is not recommended for viewers under 15. There are many scary scenes, confronting themes and rather strong coarse language. Parents of older teens may wish to discuss some of the themes, including suicide and rape, with their children.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Standing up to peer pressure to do what you believe to be right.
  • Following your dreams
  • Finding forgiveness and redemption from your past.

 

 

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