The Boy is a frightening thrill ride directed by William Brent Bell (The Devil Inside) and starring Lauren Cohan (The Walking Dead). Greta (Cohan) is a young American woman who takes a job as a nanny in a remote English village, only to discover that the family's 8-year-old is a life-sized doll that the parents care for just like a real boy, as a way to cope with the death of their actual son 20 years prior. After violating a list of strict rules, a series of disturbing and inexplicable events bring Greta's worst nightmare to life, leading her to believe that the doll is actually alive.
In the film, THE BOY, Greta Evans, is a young woman from Montana, who has just escaped an abusive relationship. Since then she has retreated to the UK, along the English countryside, where she has accepted a job, as being a nanny. The job is for a wealthy couple, Mr. and Mrs. Heelshire. And the job? To look after their son, Brahms. Sounds simple enough. Only there is a slight problem. Brahms is absolutely, no ordinary boy. In fact, the real Brahms Heelshire, died in a house fire, 20 years prior. The truth is that the Heelshires want Greta to look after a porcelain doll, that itself is very life-like. With the doll closely resembling its human counterpart(the true Brahms), the Heelshires treat the doll, as if it were alive. And they expect Greta to do the same. Initially, Greta struggles at the thought. However, her true test comes after the Heelshires leave Greta alone with "Brahms" before going on holiday. But that is not before the Mrs. leaves behind a list. The list consisting of 10 strict rules involving Brahms which she must follow. Again, Greta makes light of the situation, but agrees. However once alone with the doll, Greta would soon realize just how serious the rules, as well as Brahms truly are. She begins to hear the sounds of a young boy giggling and sobbing, and at times the doll seems to move. That's because he does. things also get strange when various pieces of her belongings go missing, and are unaccounted for. Before long, Greta pretty much accepts the fact that this is not simply magic at work, and that Brahms' spirit seems to live on in the doll. But it is almost at that moment, that trouble walks in, as Greta, estranged boyfriend Cole has tracked her down - and his agenda is simple. He has come to take Greta back home. It is something that doesn't seem to set well with Brahms however(as one of the rules states not to leave Brahms alone. Or another - not to have guests), and soon. things turn both chaotic and deadly at the Heelshire mansion. And it is in the midst of this chaos that the Heelshires' darkest secret finally comes to life. Brahms is still very much alive.
The first thing that needs to be said here is, that when I review a film, I always try my best not to include any type information that might spoil a film for a reader that might not have yet seen the film. In a bit of a disclaimer here, I must say that when it comes to THE BOY, there is just no way around spoilers. That's because THE BOY leaves us with more questions than answers.
I first heard of THE BOY when, of course, the film's trailer began airing on TV, and I must say, I looked forward to it. Why? Because to me, the trailer gave the film a very old school vibe. And the great thing is, that it appeared to not be a remake of any kind. So with all of this in mind, I went into THE BOY with an open mind, anticipating greatness. Unfortunately though, it seems as though I might have set my expectations just a little too high for it.
Don't get me wrong, the film is one that looks incredible. The film's cinematographer is Daniel C. Pearl, the man behind THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE(and its 2003 remake), so you know the movie has a great look. That look is all things gloomy, and Gothic. And another high point for THE BOY, is that it does have some truly creepy moments. And these are moments created via simple things as such as the placement of the doll. As with many films of this type, there are indeed those moments where the doll in question does appear to be alive. There are definitely some genuine head scratching moments. But the problem is that the film's suspense is rather sparse. Over time, things just seem to stall, and become somewhat dull, as the script seems to have no real direction. One minute we have Greta come in, who basically laughs off the idea behind the doll, then we have her being chased and trapped in the attic(by what appears the be the doll). But after, Greta is more accepting of said doll, and begins to play by the "rules". Yet, when Greta's abusive boyfriend shows up, the doll seems to no longer be upset with his nanny, but instead, the boyfriend, Cole. To put it simply, THE BOY's script is one that is very bi-polar, for the lack of a better word. And I haven't yet mentioned the film's most baffling development of all, which comes about near the film's end. In trying hard not to give it away, all that I will say is that it is an outcome which closely resembles the film, BAD RONALD. It is a reveal that brings about questions, as it throws the film's rocky script even more off course. My biggest questions were, "if it was going to end like this, then, why was there the doll in the first place?". "Was it merely a tool, just to reel the unsuspecting nannies in?". That might be the most sensible conclusion for the film. But either way, it is not very interesting. Definitely a lot less interesting than the trailer seemed to promise.
Overall, THE BOY is nicely photographed, and well acted, as well as competently directed. But it is ultimately the story that fails. There are times that the film grabs our attention, yet as the film progresses, it is unable to hold on to it. The whole feel of the film is just all over the place. It's one minute, mystery, the next, suspense, then it's rooted in revenge. Not to mention that in the end, it takes on the traits of a slasher film. It is a film that isn't very cohesive, as it attempts to remain grounded, which makes for a rather uneven experience
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
The truth is that, I really wanted to like THE BOY more than I did, and maybe I was really into the first half. However, that is when things began to slip into a dull pace, that seemingly went nowhere for a time. And of course, it all led to the film's ending. It is an ending that I assume was meant to be shocking, I suppose. Yes, it came as a surprise, as I didn't quite expect it. Yet, when you think about it, it makes the film even less believable than it might have been already when the film's main focus was the doll. Yes, the doll that the Heelshires cared for as if it were living and breathing. Coming away from the film, I really have no reaction to it, other than to say..."that's it?". Completely underwhelming.
This film will be released on Blu-Ray/DVD on May 10, 2016