Release: 11th July 2016
Format: BR / DVD / DGTL
An American nanny is shocked that her new English family’s boy is actually a life-sized doll. After she violates a list of strict rules, disturbing events make her believe that the doll is really alive.
Say what you like about dolls, but they really are rather creepy. But it is a chicken and egg scenario, because did films create that spooky vibe or did the dead-eyed stares of a thousand porcelain faces inspire chills in Hollywood’s mind first? Following in a long line of Chuckys and Annabelles comes the new kid on the block / toy chest / chair / window seat / end of the bed / book shelf lifelessly bogging at you whilst emitting a disembodied giggle, Brahms.
For all its bravado and simplistic scares, The Boy is secretly a little unsure of itself. Director William Brent Bell is clearly fighting to avoid the classic troupes of a mid-level horror, whilst consciously trying to find a voice for the movie which resonates beyond a build up to the 3rd act showdown. Bell has a tendency to base a lot of the fear inside Greta’s (the film’s protagonist) head, whilst also laying foundations for an unconventional friendship that borders on insanity. But the pull of mediocrity is too much, and the film eventually succumbs to foreshadowing and familiarity. Bell abandons a lot of the film’s quirks by the end of act 2, and bland concept horror comes into the fore (see The Forest, Ouija, Mama). Things do pick up slightly with a sincere WTF moment, but what starts with sparks of originality ends on a well worn path.
Awards will be thin on the ground for the cast of The Boy, but a good effort is made by all. Jim Norton and Diana Hardcastle get to have the most fun as Mr and Mrs Heelshire, while Lauren Cohan takes a bit of a rest from fighting zombies to turn rather maternal as Greta.
The Boy is far from The Shining or The Wicker Man territory, but it makes a somewhat honest attempt to be a little more psychological than your average horror movie. It is a film that is refreshingly light on gore, and tries to get its scares with patience rather than sudden noises. But Bell’s resilience to tradition does wear thin, however, and the film often suffers because of it.
Film Grade: C-
Jeepers, what a shoddy display of features! Two EPKs that feature brief talking heads from the cast and crew do little to explore anything. Although Bell does embarrass himself by saying he fully expects The Boy to become a “classic”. A level of delusion that is scarier than some of the film itself.
Special Features Grade: D-
More interesting than your average bear, but nowhere near as smart. The Boy pokes its head above the crowd long enough to agin an honorable mention. But the likes of James Wan are still dominating the genre, little Brahms might just have to sit and collect dust.