By Lynn Venhaus

An ultra-violent wild and woolly “Boy Kills World” benefits from a strong cast, wit, and flashy moves, but is hurt by its lack of restraint.

While destined to be a cult classic among genre fans, it’s just too much excess in every way to take it seriously as a narrative feature when it’s clearly a gonzo video game.

Had first-time director Moritz Mohr and his screenwriting partners Tyler Burton Smith, a video game writer, and Arend Remmers, toned down the sickening and savage splatter-fest, it could have been entertaining in a “John Wick” meets “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” way.

It’s based on Mohr’s same-titled short film that he wrote. With its high-body count, severed limbs and gushing blood, it’s a tough watch.

The action thriller is set in a dystopian future, where the deranged matriarch of an evil dynasty stages “The Culling,” a brutal organized thinning of the dissident herd. Think “The Hunger Games” and “The Purge.”

Emulating Hong Kong action films in a cartoonish and comic-book way, our hero, simply named Boy, is driven by vengeance. As a youth, he witnessed his mother and sister killed in the annual televised spectacle. He is trained by a mentor and grows up to become a martial art killing machine. Think “Kill Bill.”

In this post-apocalyptic world, Hilda Van Der Koy (Famke Janssen) executes people who are a ‘threat’ to their way of life.

Now grown, Bill Skarsgard is the buff assassin who is deaf and mute from the torture he endured. He has repressed his vivid imagination to become an instrument of death.

His part is narrated by H. Jon Benjamin, who voices Bob on “Bob’s Burgers,” and that’s an inspired move.  So is the boy talking to his sister’s ghost — Mina is played charmingly by Quinn Copeland.

The mysterious shaman Yayan Ruhian has prepared him for a showdown with this insane totalitarian regime, which besides Janssen, includes Michelle Dockery (“Downtown Abbey”!!!), Sharlto Copley as her idiot husband game show host Glen and a very funny Brett Gelman, of “Stranger Things,” as hard-drinking Gideon.

Jessica Rothe, who made a good impression in “Happy Death Day 2 U,” is their ruthless soldier assassin called “June 27.”

Boy’s resistance group pals are played by Andrew Koji and Isaiah Mustafa, and they have a stand-out scene slicing and dicing in a “winter wonderland’ TV set.

“Do you know how hard it is to get a cereal company to sponsor mass murder?” Melanie screams after things go horribly awry.

Mohr confidently and cheekily directed this fever dream in an over-the-top style that will appeal to all short-attention-span viewers. He unleashes torrents of carnage, like a demented Nickelodeon employee dousing folks with slime, only here it’s buckets of fake blood.

Dawid Szatarski, a fight coordinator who has worked on such films as “Kingsman: The Secret Service” and “Wonder Woman,” designed the fight choreography, and it is a barrage of fast moves and gruesome injuries, captured by stylish camerawork from cinematographer Peter Matjasko, with crisp editing by Lucian Barnard.

The stunt work is exceptional, as expected. If the film weren’t so off-putting with its gore for gore’s sake, it could have had some lasting merit, especially with some of the inspired characters, but it’s just exhaustive fighting from start to finish for 1 hour, 55 minutes.

The plot takes a sharp hairpin turn midway that may not work for viewers, but this film’s audience is there for the mayhem. The director has jumbled a bunch of styles from different films, given it a graphic novel sheen, and presented this slaughter with the mind-numbing and relentless action of a video game.

Produced by Sam Raimi, this work premiered at last fall’s Toronto International Film Festival.

“Boy Kills World” is a 2023 action thriller directed by Moritz Mohr and starring Bill Skarsgard, Famke Janssen, Sharlto Copley, Brett Gelman, Jessica Rothe, Yayan Ruhian and Michelle Dockery. It is rated R for strong bloody violence and gore throughout, language, some drug use and sexual references, and runtime is 1 hour, 55 minutes. It opened in theatres April 26. Lynn’s Grade: C-.

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