...And it brings out the worst in people. Take Ted and his dad for example. John (David Morse) is depressed and bit of a drinker, running a run down motel in a middle of nowhere, where guests arrive only by accident. Ted is a cute little blond boy, who caught an acute case of sociopathy, he's fascinated with death and very weird young man.
The running thread in this film is vast, unavoidable loneliness of the place and characters, not a healthy situation for a kid, who's getting bored and his anger for being stuck there builds slowly.
Creepy kids are often quite annoying, that's just how things are, and it's kinda hard to actually root for them but there are certain aspects of his life that can make us feel bad for Ted. At least occasionally, and for a brief moment. Mom's run away with some random guest, so he's left with the father, a decent guy but kind of lethargic and a loner himself. And the dream that he'll one day leave this miserable place and join his mother.
The pace is very slow which of course stresses the atmosphere, the actual misdeeds that we witness break away from the overall melancholy and outbursts of anger provide much needed dynamics. There are moments of tension which get slowly drowned by the tone of the film, building on leisurely drama rather than lifting the horror elements. But the finale is certainly fitting, as all we'd seen before it led to the big resolution.
This film is not particularly original, let me mention brilliant The Good Son, as a reference; but it follows the recent trend in cinema where slow burn drama dominates even straight genre work, making them seem more arty and meditative at the expense of action sequences. Making even US films like this one, seem more...I don't know...European in tone and style.
The film doesn't really dwell on the boy's nature, it doesn't raise obligatory nature vs nurture question as we are aware this boy's life is not happy. On the other hand it deals with father - son relationship a bit, making it very clear mom's absence and isolation has really affected the kid. But has it really, or did he just want to break away from boring routine where nothing happens unless you make it so yourself? "Oh well. We all do what we can not to think about life" I suppose.