Holy Boy (The)

Directed by: Paolo Strippoli
Country: Italy
Genre: Horror



A teacher with a sorrowful past is transferred to Pont Remy, the happiest town in all of Italy. He will discover that behind that enviable status, there hides a dark and disturbing secret. Every week, the inhabitants of that town vent their sorrows on Matteo Corbin, an introverted 15-year-old. Everyone believes that he’s an angel. They say that all it takes is a quick hug with him to free oneself from all pain and sorrow. The teacher decides to save Matteo from the community’s abuse – but all too soon that entire community will need to be saved by the angel of Pont Remy.

Director’s vision

Is it right to escape sorrow?
The one asking this question is Sergio Rossetti, the film’s protagonist. And I, with him, have reached a conclusion: the answer is no. Sorrow is the emotional memory of each and every one of us; every small wound has transformed us into what we are; it has shaped our body and our soul. And yet, like him, I too have figured that if I could give up sorrow, I’d probably do so in a heartbeat. Every human being tries to deal with his sorrows the best he can: drugs, alcohol, faith. Matteo Corbin is all this and more, and his method works. How can one blame the inhabitants of Pont Remy who depend on his hugs? It’s a garbled mess that’s impossible to untangle, but The Holy Boy rides this ambiguous morality and gives life to a gripping story that focuses on the consequences of human weakness. A veritable rollercoaster ride of surprise twists, shocks, fears and tenderness. Matteo easily follows in the wake of the iconic Carrie of Stephen King fame; he’s lethal like the young protagonist of Chronicle by Josh Trank; unresolved like Thelma by Joachim Trier. Pont Remy has the unsettling allure of provincial small town and the island that are the backdrop of the events shown in The Wicker Man by Robin Hardy. The story of Matteo and Sergio also pays homage to Let the Right One n by Tomas Alfredson as an example of thematic and genre precision at the service of an intimate and weighty tale. The Holy Boy is the story of a boy who can take away sorrow with a hug, a Christ who suddenly decides to pull the nails out of his cross and shout for help, thereby plunging the entire community into danger: a “magical” thriller of international breadth, but at the same time, rooted into the identity of an Italian province and of our filmmaking tradition


Director’s biography

Paolo Strippoli was born in Corato, Bari, in 1993. He graduated in directing from the Experimental Center of Cinematography in Rome after graduating in Performing Arts and Sciences at the “Sapienza” University. His short films have been selected in several international festivals. In 2019, he won the Franco Solinas award for best subject with the film THE UNHAPPY ANGEL. In 2020, he directed with Roberto De Feo the Netflix film A CLASSIC HORROR STORY, winner of the award for best director at the 67th Taormina Film Fest. In 2021, he directed his second feature film, the psychological horror PIOVE, which will be released in cinemas in autumn 2022.


Production Company: NIGHTSWIM


Video presentation