Greta Evans (Lauren Cohan) accepts the job of a nanny for a wealthy couple’s child named Brahms and is disturbed when she finds out the child is a doll. However, when she mishandles the doll, she is shocked to find that it is alive.
Horror movies centered around a creepy or possessed doll are nothing new. One of the most popular horror franchises of all time is undoubtedly the Chucky or Child’s Play franchise, which centers around the possessed Good Guy doll as it wreaks havoc and murders innocent people. If you were to name off five or so random horror franchises, more than likely Chucky would be in that mix.
So, I was honestly not too excited to see what William Brent Bell’s The Boy had to offer. It looked relatively generic and didn’t look like it would have too many surprises up its sleeve. But, I figured I would give it a shot since the sequel, Brahms: The Boy II, is going to be released in theatres this coming Friday.
Unfortunately, my instincts were right. The Boy is not a good movie. It’s not an awful movie, though. It’s just a massive missed opportunity. This could have been Chucky for a more modern generation, but it instead divulges into incredibly familiar territory and ultimately becomes a home invasion type thriller which was such a disappointment.
One of the reasons why this movie fails is because of its script. Clocking in at only ninety seven minutes in length, The Boy feels like it has nowhere to go. Screenwriter Stacey Menear put so many pointless scenes in this screenplay to the point where it feels like you’re watching a series of potentially unnerving events that lead nowhere. It takes about thirty-five minutes for something remotely “scary” to happen on screen, and that’s not good. Yes, the film does attempt to give the audience the creeps with the titular boy Brahms, but just zooming in on the face of a porcelain doll is nowhere near enough to frighten an audience. You have to do more than that.
Even when they do commit to scaring the viewer, they rely on the most tired trope in the horror genre – jump scares. There was not a whole lot of them here, but every time they wanted to scare the viewer, they used one. It was honestly such a shame to see this tactic utilized here.
In addition to that, there are several dream sequences here which was incredibly frustrating. There are few things an audience hates more than to witness an extremely crazy and thrilling scene, only to be told a moment later that none of it actually happened, and it was just taking place in the lead character’s dream. It happens here and it was a let down.
But, there are definitely some really great aspects to The Boy as well. This is not even close to being one of the worst horror films I have ever seen or anything like that. There are some positives here. The biggest one has to be Lauren Cohan as the lead character Greta Evans. I have always loved Cohan’s work, particularly as Maggie Greene on AMC’s The Walking Dead television show. She is absolutely terrific in that show, and I have loved her performances in nearly everything she has been in so far, and The Boy is no different.
As Greta, she is asked to do a lot. There are some sequences in which she has to show raw, genuine emotion. She has to scream and cry. She does everything the script asked her to do beautifully. One scene in the second act with her almost gave me goosebumps, all because of how well acted the film was especially on Cohan’s part.
Plus, there are honestly a few moments here where genuine tension and suspense is created. Is it often undermined with something lazy with a jump scare? Yes. But still, there were some instances here in which the lack of music and slow-panning of the camera actually created some genuinely intense moments.
Speaking of cameras, the cinematography by Daniel Pearl was also a treat to look at. Everything about the Heelshire Mansion looks creepy and bleak, and Pearl’s camerawork reflected that beautifully.
Also, The Boy contains an incredibly creepy and well-done ending that, while somewhat predictable, was still a ton of fun to see unfold. However, it is definitely the type of ending that asks you to suspend your disbelief, because if you were to take a moment to reflect on how that ending works, you’d realize that it really doesn’t make any sense.
As a whole though, this film fell flat. It had some great aspects and performances on display, but it could not save the sometimes boring and lazy script that felt like a giant missed opportunity more than anything.
Although there are great performances and camerawork on display, The Boy ultimately feels like a lazy attempt at reinvigorating the creepy doll trend of the horror genre.
Overall Grade: C
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence and terror, and for some thematic material
Directed by: William Brent Bell
Distributed by: STXfilms
Release Date: January 22, 2016
Running Time: 97 minutes