Review: The Boy

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.

When I first saw the trailer for this I thought this looked like an interesting idea. Take an American nanny who is looking for an escape from her past and place her in a remote house in England to look after an eight year old boy. Thus we find that the boy perished in a fire and the parents keep his memory alive in a porcelain doll that they look after as if the child were still alive. What a fantastic set up, question is does it work?

Initially yes it does as Greta (Cohan) is given a list of rules that Brahms needs to be kept happy, initially warned by his parents that if you are nice to him he will be nice to you. However she decides to disregard some and soon weird things start to happen and this is where it plays out almost like a paranormal horror, giving the impression that the ghost of the boy may be to blame. However more clues reveal that perhaps it isn’t a ghost and that Brahms isn’t too far away from his home after all.

The last third lost me a little as I preferred the paranormal idea rather than what it became. The return of the ex boyfriend wasn’t needed and I just didn’t enjoy it as much at the end as I had for the first hour.

That said we do have a perfectly competent horror with a few nice little scares but nothing too much. It’s a decent addition with a nice story that works for the most part and it is a lot of fun as well. I enjoyed watching this and whilst it’s not without its flaws in the story especially towards the end it still is a decent little horror.

The boy is a weird mix of ideas that if I bluntly wrote them on a piece of paper it would sound like a lot of cookie cutter horrors released in the last few years. The type that usually has me rolling my eyes and feeling my blood boil as I want nothing more than to walk out of the cinema, expensive popcorn be dammed!
But it wouldn’t be accurate or fair to The Boy. Granted in parts it sometimes feels like an incredibly generic horror film. In others it nails the creepy and unnerving vibe that so many films strive for and so many fail to achieve.

Setting itself in an isolated country house, the lead – Greta the nanny/aupair is on the run from her life in the USA and is asked to look after a doll. See what I mean about a generic?

But then the film did something good – it held its nerve. Huge amounts of effort were put in to the film and script to ensure that the doll didn’t move on its own and everything that was happening was within the realms of it being cabin fever…or a possessed doll. Huge credit has to be given that they didn’t give up on this simple idea. The film has a rather slow and meandering plot overall that is punctured with events, while this achieves the unnerving and lonely feeling of being in that situation, it also means the film often drags in places.

The casting is good, Lauren Cohan and Rupert Evans take the leads – but none of the performances are hugely memorable. Even as Greta (Cohan) starts to believe the doll, while she gives a good performance, it isn’t anything that will stay with you past the cinema foyer.

As always there has to be a twist. I guessed what was going to happen in the film probably about 20 minutes in, but the twist was held back for so long i had started to think that I was wrong. Yes, I would have loved for the other option to be the reality and for the film to continue in the same vein, but I also didn’t hate the ending of The Boy. It’s certainly a film to catch at some point, but dosent need to be seen on the big screen.

The Boy is at UK Cinemas from the 18th March 




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