Living Doll? A 60 second review of The Boy (2016)

Living Doll? A 60 second review of The Boy (2016)

“Be good to him and he will be good to you.”

I know what you’re thinking: not another scary-doll-horror movie. But things are not always what they seem in The Boy, and you might find your expectations make the eventual twists somewhat surprising. This might stop the movie from being completely unwatchable, but it is still far off the pace in what is currently a good time for horror.

From director William Brent Bell, comes the story of Greta, played by The Walking Dead’s Lauren Cohen, a young american woman who is invited to nanny Brahms, the child of two very creepy villagers in a remote part of the English countryside. The catch is, the child turns out to be a lifeless doll, or so it seems. Even though this would make most people twirl their finger around their ear and jump back across the pond, Greta apparently needs the money, so she takes the job and the movie rolls on…

What I liked…

There is something mysterious about the movie, especially in the first hour, that kept me interested. It is no doubt one of Director William Brent Bell’s better films, and Lauren Cohen holds her own in a mostly one-sided conversation with a doll. This is despite some really awkward dialogue and even more awkward flirting with Malcolm, the local gardener.

Where the film eventually ends up. What you expect to happen doesn’t always play out, and the film uses dream sequences to distract you from the reality of the situation, to deliver a hell of a twist.  I won’t give anything away, but I recommend seeing the film through to the end even if you are struggling past the hour mark.

What I disliked…

The characters are clumsily drawn out and their backstories often become a pointless distraction from an essentially decent idea for a movie. The stereotyped hick ex-boyfriend, the backward talking old couple playing the pronoun game with the uninitiated. It’s all rather predictable.

Full of jump scares, whose tired overuse never fails to clench the jaws of horror critics. It isn’t that they don’t really work, it’s just that they serve no purpose other than putting the button on a scene to make paranoid directors feel better.

The tepid camerawork fails to drive up the tension when it matters and Bell doesn’t seem wiling to let the horror do the talking for the characters. There are so many similar angles found in the scenes with the doll the viewer becomes quickly desensitised to the mystery involved.

Shapstik Verdict

No doubt a poor film with some rather slow paced and predictable scenes, cartoonish acting and poor character development. Despite that though, it has enough going on that makes it worth watching through till the end. There is also a certain duality to The Boy which will either infuriate or satisfy. Either way, it is still a missed opportunity in a movie that had the potential to become a horror-doll classic under the guide of better writers and directors. 4/10

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