Boys in the Trees review – a coming-of-age film with Fright Night flourishes

At its best, Nicholas Verso’s tale of estranged teens feels like an attempt to reinvent The Babadook by way of Heartbreak High

Boys in the Trees is no walk in the park; more like a stroll home on a dark spooky night. That’s the literal journey undertaken in the debut feature film of writer/director Nicholas Verso, a tale of two estranged teenage buddies walking the streets and creeping each other out at Halloween circa 1997. Underneath the bonnet, it’s a film exploring childhood regret: in particular, how petty schoolyard games can fracture friendships.

Corey (Toby Wallace) hangs out with the cool boys. They swig vodka straight from the bottle, check porn sites (on rather slow dial-up connections), hang out at the skate park and pash girls. Ringleader Jango (Justin Holborow) is the leader of the pack: a self-entitled and violent sleazeball who considers himself something of a demigod.
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Mushroom's John Molloy on premiering indie Boys in the Trees at Venice

John Molloy is the head of production at Mushroom Pictures, working out of the company's Melbourne office. After boffo success with 'Molly' earlier in the year, he's now gearing up for the release of his latest project as producer: Nicholas Verso's fantasy-tinged teen drama 'Boys in the Trees'.

When did you meet the director, Nicholas Verso? I know you produced his short..

That was the first time we worked together, on The Last Time I Saw Richard (2014), but I'd seen some of Nicholas's short films before that. Nic and I started working on Boys in the Trees and then decided to make The Last Time I Saw Richard as a way of helping us put the feature together. A proof of our relationship and also showing Nicholas' style, so that when we were out talking about the feature we had something very concrete that people could hold on to.
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Teenage star faces a dilemma

Now shooting his first co-lead role in an Australian feature after starring in Martin Scorsese.s Hugo, Steven Spielberg.s Lincoln and Tim Burton.s Dark Shadows, Gulliver McGrath is facing a dilemma. As he finishes his Vce exams juggled with his shooting schedule, the 17-year-old is tossing up whether to embark on a university course next year or to focus on his acting career.

.Acting is my dream but it is a fickle business so I do want something to fall back on,. McGrath tells If from the Adelaide set of writer-director Nicholas Verso.s The Boys in the Trees.

.I may go to university, perhaps to do a psychology degree, if my career doesn.t kick off..

In Verso.s debut feature McGrath and Toby Wallace (Never Tear Us Apart: The Untold Story of Inxs, Parer.s War) are playing teenagers, Jonah and Corey, who embark on a
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Young star transitions from Hollywood to Adelaide

After starring in Martin Scorsese.s Hugo, Steven Spielberg.s Lincoln and Tim Burton.s Dark Shadows, Gulliver McGrath is playing his first co-lead role in an Australian feature.

Not bad for the Aussie actor who turned 17 last month.

In Boys in the Trees McGrath and Toby Wallace (Never Tear Us Apart: The Untold Story of Inxs, Parer.s War) are playing teenagers who embark on a surreal journey on Halloween night in 1997.

The feature debut of writer-director Nicholas Verso, it starts a five-week shoot in Adelaide on Monday, funded by the South Australian Film Corp., Mushroom Pictures and private investors.

The producer is Mushroom Pictures. John Molloy with Hedone Productions. Kate Croser and Sandy Cameron as co-producers.

Verso wrote the feature in 2011 and then went through the Afc.s Springboard, which funded his short The Last Time I Saw Richard, which was named best short fiction film at the Aacta Awards.
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Producers unveil strategic alliance

Morrissey Molloy Entertainment, Garry Charny.s Spotted Turquoise Films and Michael Gudinski.s Mushroom Pictures have unveiled a joint venture which aims to produce at least six films.

The first two projects are Boys in the Trees, a drama starring Harrison Gilbertson and Alice Englert, and Wake Up Dead, which has Alex Russell and Luke Ford attached.

.We each bring different skills and strong national and international contacts to the joint venture,. Charny tells If. The .matchmaker. was Maura Fay casting agent Marianne Jade, who is casting both films.

"She suggested we get together for a cup of coffee and we realised we were each producing a film we liked and respected,. said Molloy, who is developing Boys in the Trees for the co-venture between Mushroom and Morrissey Molloy.

Wake Up Dead is the first Australian film from Spotted Turquoise. Charny produced Ray Lawrence.s Jindabyne in his former role as head of April Films.
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