Story

Boys in the Trees is set during Halloween 1997 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 isn’t sure he likes his friends’ plans for the evening and decides to take a walk on his own.

He finds himself at the skate park with an old childhood friend. Although they grew up together, the two boys have grown apart over the years. Corey is now part of the popular gang while 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. 

Themes

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

Violence

Boys in the Trees has many scenes of violence. For example:

  • Scenes show older teenage boys fighting and punching each other.
  • A scene implies that two young boys are assaulted and raped (this isn’t shown graphically).
  • Many incidents involve extreme verbal aggression and violent threats.
  • Some scenes show property destruction and vandalism.
  • A demon-like creature is seen gouging out a man’s eyes with its fingernails.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Boys in the Trees has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:

  • Many scenes show children and teenagers in very scary Halloween costumes and scary masks. There are clown and wolf masks, a cloth bag with eyes cut out, and painted skulls. The costumes are quite monstrous and scary.
  • Many scenes show boys bullying Jonah. For example, boys chase Jonah through the school ground, throw a dead bird at his bedroom window, write a homosexual insult on his locker, punch him and so on.
  • ‘Death’ is symbolised by an Aboriginal man in a white suit and hat who appears as an apparition throughout the movie.
  • Corey and Jonah must walk through a dark, dimly lit forest. This scene is accompanied by atmospheric tense music.
  • The movie has several ‘ghost stories’ within it, including a story about a girl haunting a storm drain. She appears when you light a match.
  • The boys in the gang 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 isn’t graphic, but it’s very distressing and it’s implied that they’ve been raped.

From 5-8
Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the scenes mentioned above.

From 8-13
Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by the scenes mentioned above.

Over 13
Younger viewers in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.

Sexual references

Boys in the Trees has some sexual references. For example:

  • A girl licks a lollipop seductively.
  • One of the teenage boys says he’s going to look for girls to have sex with. He uses some coarse language to describe this.
  • There are some confusing scenes with mild homoeroticism.
  • There is a theme of discrimination against homosexual boys. 

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

Boys in the Trees shows a lot of substance use. For example:

  • Teenagers steal bottles of spirits from a parent’s house and drink alcohol.
  • Teenagers smoke marijuana.
  • Teenagers inhale nitrous oxide.
  • Teenagers smoke cigarettes.
  • In one scene the camera work shows the perspective of someone who’s drunk.

Nudity and sexual activity

Boys in the Trees has some sexual activity. For example:

  • The romance between a central character and a girl leads to sex. This is implied in a scene that shows them lying naked in bed together, but sex isn’t shown explicitly.
  • Teenagers kiss.
  • A scene implies the sexual assault of two young boys.

Product placement

None of concern

Coarse language

Boys in the Trees has a lot of coarse language, which characters use aggressively throughout the movie.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Boys in the Trees is a dark and rather convoluted movie that explores what it’s like to be a boy on the cusp of manhood. It ambitiously tackles difficult issues of masculine friendships, affection and aggression; childhood trauma; self-harm; and suicide.

This is an emotional and sometimes quite disturbing movie that isn’t recommended for viewers under 15 years. There are many scary scenes, confronting themes and quite strong coarse language. If you have older teenagers who see the movie, you might wish to discuss some of the themes with them, including suicide and rape.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include:

  • standing up to peer pressure to do what you believe is right
  • following your dreams
  • finding forgiveness and redemption from your past.