Lauren Cohen takes a break from fighting with zombies in The Walking Dead to do some house-sitting in England in new horror film The Boy.
On the run from an abusive boyfriend, Greta (Cohen) takes up a job as nanny for an eccentric elderly couple who are planning their first holiday in years. The couple have a little boy called Brahms whom Greta must look after in their absence, but Brahms isn’t quite the normal child you might expect; he’s a doll.
The Boy appeared in all its trailers and teasers to be much like any other possessed-doll horror film. We’ve seen it all before in Dead Silence and, more recently, Annabelle to name just two but The Boy tries all too deliberately to shock its viewers and go against expectations with a twist ending that is as disappointing as it is surprising.
The first half an hour or so of the film is promising. The tension builds and builds and there are even a few jump scares thrown in for good measure. It’s uncomfortable to watch and the elderly couple (played by Diana Hardcastle and Jim Norton) do a very good job of setting the audience on edge, referring to each other as mummy and daddy in scenes that are creepy enough to make even the most hardened of horror hounds cringe. The Boy does a very good job of being an unsettling watch and all seems promising for the first small stretch.
It’s a film about a doll. It doesn’t take much in the way directorial finesse to make a doll creepy for Brahms is suitably spooky without much effort. The fact that we never actually see him move works in its favour and keeps up the mystery that makes the opening scenes so creepy. It’s when the doll makes Greta a sandwich that the tension is shattered and things get tiresome and laughable. The rest of the film (until the last few scenes that is) is meandering and quite dull. Not much happens; Greta starts to believe that the doll is actually a real boy and succumbs to its every weird wish happily and all the spooky happenings come to an end; not a jump scare in sight.
Then there’s the twist. I won’t re-tell what happens in the film moment by moment but I will tell you that it turns out not to be a possessed doll at all but the real life Brahms hiding in the walls. Now a grown man, living within the walls in a bid to protect him since he killed a girl when he was little, Brahms breaks free and tries to kill Greta and anyone else inside the house. Wearing a doll mask Brahms is a bit Michael Myers-esque; big and bumbling with a bushy beard. He stomps around and tries to pick everyone off and in final-girl style Greta manages to get one over on him and leave in one piece; highly underwhelming.
A convoluted little story that tries way too hard to be something we haven’t seen before. If The Boy had just stuck to the possessed-ghost-doll story it would have been a much more successfully creepy film but insisting on being different and throwing in a shock twist rendered it underwhelming and actually quite boring.
The Boy is creepy until the doll makes a sandwich and then it’s all downhill from there. Probably not worth going out of your way to see.