What I'm Watching: The Boy
Hello horrorheads, it's time for a quick review of something recent, and I got my hands on The Boy. I really wanted to catch this in theatres, but never quite pulled it off.
The Boy centers around Greta Evans, played by Walking Dead and Supernatural's Lauren Cohan, as she's traveling around England to get some space from a previous relationship. In need of a job, she interviews for a nanny position, and yay! She gets it!
Oh, did I forget to mention that Brahms isn't actually a boy, but just a doll that the parents have been taking care of? Yeah, that's a bit of a surprise for Greta, but she needs the work, and is more than willing to look after this doll, in this giant, old, amazing home in the English countryside, while the boy's parents go off on a vacation. Who wouldn't?
Greta ignores all the rules the Heelshires leave for her, but she can't deny that weird things keep happening around the house, and with the kid. It starts out of the sort of, "Wait, I thought I left my keys here?!" but quickly escalate in strange and disconcerting ways.
Eventually, Greta decides the doll must be possessed with the spirit of the real Brahms who died years ago, and the mother used the doll as a coping mechanism for her loss. She starts following the rules, and the weirdness tones itself down, and good things start happening around the house, almost settling into normalcy.
But we can't have that though, when her ex shows up, and torments the doll, because he's a dick. This all builds to a head and a shocking but satisfying conclusion.
I wouldn't call The Boy a great movie, but I did really enjoy it. Due to the nature of the horror, it's a bit of a slow burn. There's only so much you can do with an inanimate object trying to deliver your scares. This movie has to survive on creating a sense of dread, and a creepy mood, than actual scares. And it comes very close to that, and at the very least, you're intrigued by the mystery; just what is going on, and what's the story behind Brahms? are compelling narrative hooks.
But relying on a doll sitting there to carry the sense of dread never quite is pulled off. The most effective moments are when the doll does things, that dolls can't do. But because of the nature of what's going on, almost all of those have to happen when literally no one is watching, not even the audience. And when you do see the doll doing things, they're always revealed to be nightmares. Which are terrifying and great jumps but...well, you know how I feel about those fakeouts. Still, they ARE good, and with the plot being hamstrung by their choice to center around an inanimate object, I'll allow it.
The movie has a strong gothic atmosphere, largely because of the Britishness of it, and the architecture, but that's about it. It certainly helps the mood they're trying to set, and make that all the more effective.
Overall, the story was intriguing, and unfolded well, and I walked away from the movie feeling entertained and satisfied with the story I was given. It just needed a little something...more to it. I would absolutely watch it, even if it could've been tightened up a bit, and maybe not made to seem like a movie-sized episode of Tales from the Darkside. And don't get me wrong, that's not a criticism, I loved that show, but The Boy really fits nicely into that kind of Twilight Zoney anthology model, and might have been better suited for a shorter format.
I definitely recommend checking out The Boy, as a solidly entertaining thriller, that delivers a better story than the scares it was trying to bring.