BOY SWALLOWS UNIVERSE on Netflix is a new mini-series from Australia. A brutal yet loving coming-of-age story with seven amazing episodes and an awesome cast. Read our Boy Swallows Universe series review here!

BOY SWALLOWS UNIVERSE is a new Netflix limited series from Australia. The series is full of familiar faces. It’s like a virtual “Greatest Hits of Australia” with actors who often haven’t been known for portraying Aussie characters.

This series is a genre mix with a coming-of-age story at the heart of it all. It has a brutal streak as this is also a crime thriller with a mystery. However, having it told by a young boy lends an innocence to it.

Continue reading our Boy Swallows Universe series review below. On Netflix from January 11, 2024.

Welcome to Australia in the 1980s

In Boy Swallows Universe, we meet Eli. He is trying to make the most of his tumultuous childhood, while also constantly landing himself in trouble. His mom lives with addiction, while his stepdad (loving as he is) is working as a drug dealer.

Eli (Felix Cameron) lives with his mom (Phoebe Tonkin), stepdad (Travis Fimmel), and his older brother Gus (Lee Tiger Halley). When the adults are out, they have a somewhat alternative take on a babysitter. An ex-con (Bryan Brown) who just served 25 years in jail for murder.

Oh, also, Gus doesn’t speak as he is a selective mute. However, he does spell out things with his finger in the air and is a kind of poetic clairvoyant. Overall, the world Eli is growing up in has a lot of challenges. However, he always tries to follow his heart and be a good person.

Lee Tiger Halley shines in the Netflix series

Set in a dusty Brisbane suburb in 1985, we come across a lot of intriguing characters. As wonderful as all the supporting characters are, the two brothers are what carry the story. Felix Cameron is charming and brave as the middle schooler Eli Bell.

However, during the first few episodes especially, it’s Lee Tiger Halley as his older brother Gus that steals the show. Not speaking and having the most striking eyes just make for a very strong combination. I cannot wait to see Lee Tiger Halley in more roles!

While the story in Boy Swallows Universe begins with Eli being just 13 years old, it follows him from these dark, but strangely magical teenage years, into his adulthood.

In key roles, we also see Emmy nominee Simon Baker (Land of the Dead, The Mentalist), and new horror darling Sophie Wilde from Talk to Me (2022).

Other familiar faces include Anthony LaPaglia (Nitram), Christopher James Baker (True Detective: Night Country), Toby Schmitz from Black Sails as a cop and Kate Box from Deadloch as a doctor.

Boy Swallows Universe – Review | Netflix Mystery Series

The Boy Swallows Universe ending

The ending of Boy Swallows Universe will leave a mark on you. Every episode of Boy Swallows Universe has an episode title with the word “boy” in it. You might think that these episode titles contain spoilers. And you would be correct. To some extent anyway.

The Boy Swallows Universe ending is exactly as it should be. And that’s all I’ll say about that as we don’t do spoilers here on Heaven of Horror.

Is Boy Swallows Universe based on a true story?

Boy Swallows Universe is adapted from the bestselling novel of the same name. This was written by the author and journalist Trent Dalton. And yes the story was inspired by Trent Dalton’s childhood.

In other words, it’s not based on a true story, but it was inspired by the author’s childhood. When watching this series, you’ll surely also notice the very organic and natural feel it has.

Yes, despite also being chaotic and wild. But hey, some people have lives like that.

Watch the Boy Swallows Universe series on Netflix

This new Netflix mini-series was directed by Bharat Nalluri (Shantaram), Jocelyn Moorhouse (The Dressmaker), and Kim Mordaunt (The Rocket). The series was written by John Collee (Hotel Mumbai) and has been adapted from the novel by Trent Dalton.

One of the executive producers of this Netflix series is another famous Australian. Actor-producer Joel Edgerton (The Stranger) is a co-executive producer on this limited series with seven wonderful episodes.

This coming-of-age crime thriller mystery could be compared to Sweet Tooth. Well, except for how this is in a very real setting in Brisbane in the 1980s, and full of social issues and crime, while Sweet Tooth is more of a fantasy.

The core subjects are the same though. As in how brutal they both get. Watch it for the fascinating story and the wonderful cast. Just know that it does get dark and very intense at times.

Boy Swallows Universe is on Netflix from January 11, 2024.


Directors: Bharat Nalluri, Jocelyn Moorhouse, Kim Mordaunt
Script: John Collee
Cast: Felix Cameron, Travis Fimmel, Phoebe Tonkin, Simon Baker, Sophie Wilde, Bryan Brown, Anthony LaPaglia


A young boy growing up in the suburbs of 1980s Brisbane faces the harsh realities of life — and the looming dangers that threaten his family.

I write reviews and recaps on Heaven of Horror. And yes, it does happen that I find myself screaming, when watching a good horror movie. I love psychological horror, survival horror and kick-ass women. Also, I have a huge soft spot for a good horror-comedy. Oh yeah, and I absolutely HATE when animals are harmed in movies, so I will immediately think less of any movie, where animals are harmed for entertainment (even if the animals are just really good actors). Fortunately, horror doesn't use this nearly as much as comedy. And people assume horror lovers are the messed up ones. Go figure!
Karina "ScreamQueen" Adelgaard
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