Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The Boy (2016): Review

The Boy is a 2016 horror film. Directed by William Brent Bell (The Devil Inside) and starring Lauren Cohan (The Walking Dead) and Rupert Evans (The Man in the High Castle). The film was previously titled “The Inhabitant”.

The film follows American nanny Greta (Cohan) as she relocates to England to find work. She finds a position with the Heelshire family but is surprised to learn that their child is actually a lifelike doll in memoriam of their actual child Brahms, who died many years earlier. After the parents leave for a holiday (a rather permanent one), Greta is left alone in the house with Brahms and discovers that the strange ceramic boy is more animated than he first appeared. Local delivery man Malcolm (Evans) also becomes involved and they find themselves trapped in the large country house with Brahms, who turns out to be surprisingly grown up.

I can only assume that the Brahms prop was the first thing designed for this movie and the writing followed afterwards, because the plot and characters are the afterthought here. Yes it is a very effective and creepy design for the antagonist but, as the central characters treat it as a joke, I found myself unable to take the character seriously as the film wore on. I laughed heartily when I saw the trailer for this movie and assumed it was a horror comedy, unfortunately it’s not. The supporting characters are irritating caricatures of eccentric English country folk and, despite a thrown together back story, the placement of Greta into this setting seems wholly arbitrary.

Everything about this movie is predictable and clich├ęd. The spooky mansion, the creepy kid, the haunted doll have all been done in recent years and done better (The Woman in Black and Insidious to name a few) and even the 3rd act twist (if you can call it a twist) is identical to last year’s vastly superior “Housebound”. I feel bad for Cohan, she does her best with a dull and lifeless script and is by far the most likeable character but this is not the best way to capitalise on her success in The Walking Dead. Evans, on the other hand, embarrasses himself after an excellent turn in the Man in the High Castle and it’s clear that both these actors are better suited to TV work.

The Boy is every creepy kid/possessed doll movie that you’ve ever seen and is as generic as it’s title and marketing suggest. It’s also pretty remarkable that anyone has handed Bell a budget of this size again after the disastrous Devil Inside (2012). Suffering the same symptoms as Annabelle (2014), creepy doll movies just don’t seem to work in this day and age and become instantly forgettable. Not overly terrible but a long way from being enjoyable, this movie is a waste of everyone’s time and will leave you feeling as lifeless and glazed over as our young friend Brahms.

** 2 stars

What did you think of the film? Did Brahms scare you?


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